In recent weeks, Kemar Lawrence is looking like his old self.
The Jamaican international was arguably the best left back in MLS last season and is starting to perform that way again.
Call-ups to the Jamaican national team and injuries have cost Lawrence several games this year. Along with being called up for both Copa America and World Cup qualifiers, the 24-year-old is also being called upon for the upcoming Caribbean Cup qualifiers.
There is no denying that Lawrence has been playing his best soccer of the season over the past month, his form peaking as the Red Bulls’ unbeaten run closes in on three months in length.
“Definitely feel back to normal,” Lawrence said Friday following training. “I told [coach] Jesse [Marsch] that games is how I get going – the more games I play the more I get going. Having an injury sometimes can be disappointing. I feel great coming off that injury. I think it was something that needed to get done, I got it done.”
“I feel great, I feel ready. Jesse thinks I’m doing great. That’s what matters most of all.”
Lawrence doesn’t think the season has been frustrating, saying that injuries happen and he’s tried to keep “a positive attitude.”
At his best Lawrence is a handful down the left flank. He is a strong 1-v-1 defender with good mobility and the ability to cover acres of turf. Then he moves well into the attack, overlapping well and serving in a good cross.
He might just be one of the best outside backs in MLS in terms of his overall package and skill set.
In his head coach, Lawrence has someone who agrees that the left back’s performances have been steadily growing in recent weeks. Last season, Lawrence had started to generate interest from overseas and seemed like a possible transfer candidate to England.
Lawrence is starting to look like that elite player once again.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see him with a couple of strong performances again be the center of some hot stove conversations.
“Yes, Kemar looks 100 percent,” Marsch said. “Mentally, you can tell he’s locked in right now. He’s been playing really well. So much about Kemar is the physical demands. He’s such an explosive athlete, playing with the national team, coming back [and] playing with us. It’s not easy. When the balance is right and when he’s fully fit we see the quality he has.”
“Right now, I see Kemar is at the top since he’s been here.”