HANOVER, N.J. – Kemar Lawrence is certainly wanting a chance to prove himself in Europe but the New York Red Bulls left back is showing no signs of a letdown as he enters his second year in MLS.
Last year was a dream debut for Lawrence, the 23-year old outside back who took MLS by storm while making a similar splash in the international scene. Lawrence was signed by the Red Bulls following a preseason trial in Florida where he showed significant potential as a left back. Then when starting left back Roy Miller went down with an injury early in the season, Lawrence stepped in and made the left back spot his for the rest of the season.
Now after a strong summer last year with the Jamaican national team in both Copa America and the Gold Cup, Lawrence began to generate serious interest overseas. It is the kind of interest that has several teams in the English Premier League perhaps willing to pony-up some serious cash for his services.
Currently, he says that he won’t let a possible move to England be a distraction.
“Nothing much and I’m not really trying to think much about it. If a move comes, I know my agent will view it in the best interest of me. So, if it comes, it comes. Right now I’m being focused on being here and being the best I can,” Lawrence told Metro on Monday.
“It has always been my dream to test myself at that level. As I said before, anything that is in the best interest of me and my family right now is the choice that I’m going to make. If being here is in the best interest of them, then that’s where I am heading.”
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It figures to be another busy year for Lawrence, not unlike 2015.
Not only is there a full slate of regular season games, the Red Bulls will also participate in the CONCACAF Champions League this year as the league’s Supporters Shield winners as well as the U.S. Open Cup and possibly the MLS Cup playoffs. Then there is international duty, with Jamaica participating in Copa America Centenario, held in the United States this year as well as World Cup qualifiers.
All of which means that Lawrence will almost certainly eclipse 40 matches this year if not close to the half-century mark.
Last year, Lawrence came to the Red Bulls in-season from a Jamaican team, fully fit from a season of play. This year, he took the offseason to rest and recharge, spending time with his daughter and fiancée.
The Red Bulls began preseason on Monday at their state-of-the-art training center in north Jersey.
“It is what it is for me. It is professionalism and it is our job at the end of the day. If I have two weeks off, I have to make the best of it. If I have one thing, make the best of it. I went home, spent time with my family. It was fast but a good time. I enjoyed it,” Lawrence said.
“I’m actually thinking about playing more this year, trying to get my body in the rhythm of playing a lot of games. The transition is even easier getting called up to national team and coming back here because last year I struggled it a bit. Last year I struggled with that, I know it’s going to be a lot of games. Hopefully I can be in all of those games, last year I didn’t have a lot of injuries and hopefully this year will be a lot better.”
Two weeks ago while training with his old club team in Jamaica, he injured his groin slightly which has slowed down his preparation a bit for the season. But recently he got an injection and said that he is feeling better.
Lawrence said that the injury won’t hold him back from preseason.