The New York Red Bulls three-game home stand in April, 2017, has coincided with the return of Kemar Lawrence's best form. He capped an impressive run of performances on April 29 with the match-winner against Chicago Fire.
The fact he was still on the field to score that goal in the 71st minute was impressive in itself: Lawrence took a hard knock to the head in the first half and appeared to be struggling with its effects as half-time approached.
After the game, interviewed by Tina Cervasio for MSG Networks, Lawrence revealed that the knock had exacerbated an issue he'd been dealing with for a couple of days:
In the week - I think it was Thursday - I hit my head. I've been having some on-and-off headaches, and that hit that I got just added to it. But Jesse told me to push through, so I just tried to push through. I got a goal and we got a win, so I'm happy I pushed through.
The goal is great. The win is great. Lawrence's commitment to his team's cause is beyond reproach. A professional soccer team with a professional medical staff is surely following sensible concussion protocols. Lawrence was merely giving a post-match interview after a hard-fought win in which he played a vital role, his words in the spirit of the moment need not be used against him or RBNY.
Still, one hopes RBNY is not relying on "pushing through" as a method of coping with injuries in the squad, and perhaps with Kemar Lawrence in particular. Those who perceived a drop-off in his performance levels last season may recall he was scolded by his national team coach - Winfried Schaefer - for, in essence, "pushing through" at the Copa America Centenario last summer. Per the Jamaica Observer last June:
And [Winfried Schaefer] was upset with the manner in which Kemar Lawrence reaggravated his groin injury, which now looks set to rule him out for the rest of the tournament.
"I don’t want to knock my players, but Kemar has to be a little more professional. When he is injured then he’s injured and he cannot go to the training; and now he’s out as the MRI result is not good for his groin," said the German.
Lawrence is clearly a team player, and one apparently inclined to push himself beyond his physical limits for as long as his body can take it. When he is fit and rested - or even, apparently, when punch drunk from repeated bangs to the head - he is an exceptional player, one of the best left backs in CONCACAF no less. When he isn't, he is still the best left back RBNY has on its roster, as he was last season. But we'd rather see the best of him than the best-he-can-manage-under-the-circumstances.
Look after yourself, Kemar. Look after Kemar, RBNY. Maybe it's time for a rest until those headaches go away.