By: Brian Pitter
When Tyreek Magee turned smoothly in the middle of the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica and picked out Kemar ‘Taxi’ Lawrence who placed an inviting cross on the top of Shamar Nicholson’s head to score Jamaica’s equalizer versus Costa Rica in September, fans across the island were ecstatic, not just for the goal, but for Magee’s involvement in it.
No one was more vindicated than a certain Craig Butler though, whose passionate plea to start the 22-year-old in the number 10 position was made just a few days prior to the match.
Butler’s request was not strange to the Jamaican football fraternity. It has not been lost upon everyone that the team, in recent years, has been desperately in need of a player who can link midfield to attack and pose a threat in the attacking third of the pitch.
There have been few experiments recently. There were the likes of Kemar Roofe who played a similar role in the team’s demoralizing home defeat to Panama, Ravel Morrison has also been bestowed with the task of advancing the team’s creativity, but still not to the effect many were hoping for.
Magee is, of course, one for the future, and if groomed correctly and placed in the right environment both internationally and at the club level, he can become a force to be reckoned with in Jamaica’s midfield. In order for his skills to be completely useful though, the players around him would need to be on the same wavelength. His teammates should be willing to make runs to facilitate Magee’s passing which would perhaps mean a slight shift in tactics, from the conventional long-ball system to a more modern possession-centered or counter-attacking play.
His silky movement and clever turns as well as his range of passing, mesmerized the Costa Rican defence and highlighted exactly what he can do if given the opportunity to express himself. It also made many realize what exactly has been missing from the team. A player who can drive the ball forward and create chances. The opportunities will come but whether Magee can handle such pressure on his young shoulders is another question. It was evident that he was a bit apprehensive during moments of the first half against Costa Rica. However, as the game progressed and his teammates started to trust him more with the ball, he began to show his talents which subsequently made a difference to the tempo of the game.
While it is evident that the Jamaica national team has more issues than filling the gap for a number ten, this stands as one of the pertinent ones, a problem that, if solved, can result in an increase in the number of goals the team scores. As goals have been hard to come by, Tappa would need to address this issue quickly, if the country wants to participate in a second World Cup Finals.