'Shortman' Edwards close to MLS deal
Gordon Williams, Sunday Gleaner Writer
GEORGIA, United States:
Contract talks between national player Richard 'Shortman' Edwards and Houston Dynamo appear close to completion, with the United States (US)-based Major League Soccer club keen to sign the Harbour View midfielder for the 2011 MLS season which begins this week.
According to Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear, negotiations are ongoing with the player's representatives, although Edwards returned to Jamaica recently following a trial with the Texas club.
"We're still figuring out if we're gonna bring him in," said Kinnear on Friday night, shortly after his team lost 1-0 to the Columbus Crew here in a pre-season game which the Dynamo showcased Jamaica inter-nationals Jermaine Taylor and Lovel Palmer.
"(Edwards) had two weeks with us; one week in Arizona, one week in Orlando. Did very well for us," the coach added. "I've seen him play before, so (signing him) is a possibility."
Kinnear declined to discuss details of the negotiations. However, Harbour View confirmed a favourable bid had been made for Edwards some two weeks ago when he returned from the trial.
"We know of the offer from Houston and we have accepted the offer in principle," general manager Clyde Jureidini said yesterday.
"We are awaiting final word from the agent who is in negotiations with Houston."
According to Jureidini, Patrick McCabe, a US-based agent who represents several Jamaicans playing in MLS, is negotiating on behalf of Harbour View and Edwards. Efforts to contact McCabe yesterday were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Edwards said he is eager to move to the next level of his football career and won't hesitate if the Dynamo calls.
"I have no second thoughts about going to Houston," he said yesterday.
Kinnear appears ready to welcome him. The coach admires how the stocky 27-year-old, who is currently in camp with the Reggae Boyz preparing for two upcoming friendly internationals against Venezuela and El Salvador, does his job.
"He plays very simple," Kinnear said. "He's a good passer of the ball. He's not afraid to get close and to tackle.
"I think he's very confident and overall he plays his position very well."
Edwards, he added, could make an immediate impact in MLS.
"We wouldn't have brought him in if we didn't think he could play for us," Kinnear said. " ... So we're still figuring it out to see if there's a spot for him on this team and I think he's good enough to play in this league."
Asked when that would be, the coach remained cautious.
"Well, I don't know," Kinnear said. "We'll see. We're still talking, so I can't really comment on any of that."
Edwards has played for Jamaica's senior national team well over 20 times. He was a key member of the Reggae Boyz squad that won the Digicel Carib-bean Cup in late 2010. Since his return from the trial with the Dynamo, Edwards has played for Harbour View in the Digicel Premier League.
He was pleased with the outcome of his stint with Houston.
"I got enough playing time to showcase myself, to show what Richard Edwards is like as a player," he said.
He is also confident he can make the adjustment from the local league and excel in North America's top professional football competition.
"(The MLS) is a little bit faster than our premier league (in Jamaica); more disci-plined, organised," explained Edwards. "But once I develop my fitness, I can handle it."