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Bulls Abroad: Kemar Lawrence gets call for Jamaica’s October Caribbean Cup games

Taxi has been called home again.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaica will defend its Caribbean Cup title with a relatively inexperienced squad that blends locally-based players with those plying their trade in North America. A 20-man roster was announced on the Jamaica Football Federation’s Facebook page on September 27:

Jamaica squad for 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying

New York Red Bulls’ Kemar Lawrence is one of the few regular starters for the Reggae Boyz in the squad, which presents an opportunity for several emerging or seemingly forgotten players to assert a claim to more frequent national team appearances.

Although the absence of bigger-name players based in European leagues can largely be attributed to the relatively minor nature of the task ahead (Caribbean Cup games against teams Jamaica is expected to beat with relative comfort), the sub-text of this squad is a fresh start. Reggae Boyz head coach Winfried Schafer is expected to be released from his contract as soon as he and the JFF can agree terms.

Veteran coach Carl Brown - three times a former manager of the Reggae Boyz - had been tipped to replace Schafer, at least for the October Caribbean Cup qualifiers, but that appointment now looks less certain. Brown described the JFF’s offer of $100/day as “insulting and disrespectful” in forthright comments to the Jamaica Gleaner.

The JFF has since come forward to clarify that the proposal Brown disclosed was merely a per diem allowance, and other details - such as salary - had not been presented to him.

Someone will need to coach the team for the upcoming Caribbean Cup qualifiers. The Jamaica squad is expected to assemble on October 3 for a home game against Suriname on October 5, followed by Guyana in Guyana on October 11.

The call-up should not affect Lawrence’s work for RBNY: his club’s next two matches are scheduled for October 1 and October 16.

The 24-year-old defender is by no means the oldest player in the Jamaica squad, but he is one of the more experienced at international level. The Reggae Boyz will be expected to qualify for next summer’s Caribbean Cup finals by winning their October qualifying group. i.e. the games against Suriname and Guyana. With the coaching staff in flux, the leadership of senior players will presumably be doubly important.

Given the composition of the squad, it would appear the timing of injuries to NYRB II’s Junior Flemmings and Devon “Speedy” Williams was unfortunate. If fit, both men might have been considered for a call up. Maybe next time.