Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
WITH the benefit of experience, Evan Taylor is a much-improved player nowadays.
Taylor's man-of-the-match performance for Harbour View Football Club against Cavalier Soccer Club in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) second final game on Monday night has been a massive talking point among football lovers and experts locally. It is a performance which demonstrates his readiness for the big times again.
Although he did not score any goal in Harbour View's 2-0 win, the midfielder gave a top-notch performance and also played a role in assisting Joel Senior and Jermaine Hue to score during the first half.
Taylor not only played well in attack, but was also intelligent in his defensive duties. His telling pass from midfield set up Senior, who scored the first goal of the game. Then on the stroke of half-time, Taylor robbed a Cavalier defender of the ball and relayed a superb pass to Hue, who drilled his shot past Cavalier's goalkeeper Gariece McPherson.
"It is a tremendous feeling to know that I was rewarded for my performance, but it was a total team effort and I just played my role," Taylor, who celebrated his 24th birthday three days earlier, told The Gleaner.
"It was a very good performance for me, so once there is life, anything is possible."
Looking back, Taylor was surprisingly drafted into the national senior squad in 2008 by then coach René Simoes for World Cup Qualifiers and played against CONCACAF kingpins Mexico at The Azteca, as well as Canada away.
He did not play against Honduras in the three-game road fixtures and afterwards Simoes was fired and replaced by Theodore Whitmore, who has not given Taylor a recall.
A 19-year-old back then, Taylor received a lot of flak from the public as many believed that he was not ready for games of that magnitude. Now, it's a different ball game as he is showing maturity some five years later.
When quizzed as to what that experience has done for him, the midfielder told The Gleaner that it has served as an inspiration.
"Well, that experience served as a little motivation for me. In life there are ups and downs, so that was my down time. At that time, I was a teenager, so the experience was a stepping stone.
"It was good to have played with Ricardo Gardner and the other players who played in the 1998 World Cup for Jamaica. I also played against some outstanding players from the region."
Taylor said he holds no grudge against anyone, as he is now working harder for another chance to represent the Reggae Boyz.
"I am feeling much better now and, each game, I try to improve on my performance," he said.
He also revealed that his major motivation is the fact that his four-year-old son, Mike Evan Taylor, has an asthma condition. Although he didn't want to give details because it "makes him emotional", Taylor said the child, who is living with his (Taylor's) mother, means a lot to him and provides additional "motivation".
He also said his efforts in training led to a good performance in the incentive final that saw Harbour View earning $250,000 and Cavalier receiving $150,000.
The former Jamaica youth and senior football representative is hoping that his performance in the RSPL will lead to an overseas professional contract and another chance to wear the national colours.
Taylor's club coach, Vin Blaine, praised the midfielder for his work ethic, which has seen him improving as a player.
"Well, anyone who had watched this game (end-of-round final) must have seen a brilliant performance from this youngster (Taylor)," Blaine pointed out.
"He was in the national programme before and you can see his quality. So I am hoping he gets another chance as we are working on his attitude and game.
"Since coming to Harbour View (on loan from Reno FC), he has adapted well and his confidence is back. We have our own pattern and discipline and I think he has adapted well in the team," Blaine disclosed.
"He showed tonight (Monday) that he is above many midfielders in Jamaica. He shares a very good vibe with his teammates."
'Settled down well'
Continuing, the veteran coach said Taylor took some time to settle into the Harbour View team, but "at first, he was a little bit nervous and apprehensive, but he has settled down very well.
"He made good on his promise for tonight's game, and we are definitely expecting more from him for the remainder of the season," Blaine said.
Taylor came to prominence when he represented Westmoreland's Godfrey Stewart High in the schoolboy daCosta Cup competition. He started his club career at Reno, where under the guidance of former Jamaica national player and coach, Wendell Downswell, he played for the Under-21, Under-23 and senior team.
In 2009, Taylor went on loan to the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency following a strong season in Reno's return to Jamaica's top-flight league. Taylor was signed by Charleston Battery of the American USL Pro League on March 16, 2011.
After that, Taylor joined Harbour View on loan in 2012.