Kemar Lawrence thankful for an “amazing” 2015

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

HARRISON, N.J. – Even under the shadow of elimination from the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, young defender Kemar Lawrence has much to be thankful for.  

Lawrence began 2015 without a club, on trial with DC United with no assurances he would have a place to play in Major League Soccer.

How quickly things changed for the Jamaican national.

“God has been good.  It’s been an amazing year – (from) my coaches to my teammates. Right now, I’m just loving the moment,” Lawrence tells EoS. “I’m thankful for where God has taken me.”

Lawrence filled a void for the Red Bulls and proved himself to be one of the more dangerous wingbacks in MLS. He finished the season with one goal and four assists over 23 appearances. He quickly made his impact felt, as he exhilarated fans with his speedy play and intelligence on and off the ball.

His opportunity to shine came when Roy Miller went down with an injury early in the season. After that, Lawrence didn’t look back. Even when Miller came back from injury, Lawrence held onto his starting role.

His play caught the eye of the Jamaican national team as well, which took him to Copa America. There, Lawrence faced off against Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi, earning plaudits for his ability in shutting down a person many consider to be the best footballer in the world.

Lawrence also joined his countrymen on an unlikely Gold Cup run. However, despite his on field achievements, it was his off field events that really have left the biggest impact. Earlier this year, Lawrence welcomed his daughter into the world. “Having a daughter has really touched me,” he said. “Seeing her is just a whole different feeling. Holding her, stuff like that… it’s amazing what those little things can do to you. Right now, she’s one of the pride of my eyes, along with my fiance.

“I’m just really appreciating right now and doing everything (to) be the best person I can be – not only as a soccer player, but as a person,” he continued. “At the end of the day, there is a life after football, and you want to be remembered as a great person.”

His play in 2015 has earned Lawrence interest overseas, but for the time being, the focus is on playing for New York.  Lawrence’s original contract was for one year with two club option years there after — an option picked up by the club as evidenced by Wednesday’s roster release.