Several of Jamaica’s top talents currently play in Major League Soccer, but it’s those same talents that have drawn interest from abroad, including the Premier League.
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Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake — widely seen as a top five shot-stopper in MLS — and New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence have seen their stocks rise significantly in the United States’ top flight, but have had moves to England derailed by their national team’s standing in the world soccer.
Jamaica, currently ranked 61st in FIFA’s World Ranking, isn’t seen as a top priority in terms of global club’s granting working permits for its players, and as a result, Blake and Lawrence have been denied the opportunity to play in England.
In Blake’s case, Goal has reported that the 26-year-old had “multi-million dollar offers” from both Brighton and Crystal Palace over the summer after performing well at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Blake recently explained why his move to England’s top flight fell through, but remains hopeful that a transfer to Europe remains in his future.
“I knew everything all the way, and it’s such a tough situation,” Blake told Goal USA. “But I can’t get too worked up over it, even though it’s a very good opportunity I’m missing out on. Maybe it’s not time yet, or maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve just got to keep working hard and maybe some day, some how, if it’s supposed to be it will happen.”
Lawrence, who is now in his third year with the Red Bulls, has proven on multiple occasions in MLS that he has the talent to play either left back or in the midfield, making him a coveted player.
For the Kingston native, he says it’s difficult to accept the rules currently set forth by FIFA, but he continues to play each match in hopes that he can eventually make the leap.
“It’s hard to know that you want to play in that top division, that top league, and you can’t get to go because of stipulations like that,” Lawrence said. “It’s their rules and you have to live by it.
“We talk about it on a regular basis, but these things take time,” Lawrence added. “More than one time opportunities like that have presented themselves for me, but we already know that if they’re not talking about a $10 million or $11 million transfer it’s a no-no for Jamaican players in England.”