It was a little over a month until the start of the FIFA World Cup.
There was Whitecaps FC defender Javain Brown, lined up for Jamaica against Argentina.
Ángel Di María, Julián Álvarez, Lautaro Martínez.
And yes, Lionel Messi.
“He is a very smart person,” recalled Brown of facing one of the world’s all-time greatest players. “You can see not only with the ball, but his thinking is 100 per cent faster than any other player. You can’t really lose focus, you have to be concentrated.
"And it’s not only him, it’s the whole Argentina team. They’ve all been playing at the highest level, so you have to be switched on. It was a good game to look at and build my confidence.”
It was a proud moment for Brown, and like most of his experiences, he took it in stride.
“It’s one of the biggest moments of your life to represent not only your country, but your family and the whole nation. It’s a great moment and for a youngster like me, I have to keep 100 per cent concentrated to be starting every time I get called, because there are good quality players all around the world that are fighting for the same spot. It’s the same thing at the club, you have keep concentrated and give your all the time.”
Brown’s sophomore season was full of swings.
He started on and off through the first two months of the season before maintaining his place in the lineup in May.
He would go on to start 10 straight MLS matches, until facing one of the biggest scares of his young career.
In the first half on the road at FC Cincinnati, he got into in a frightening collision with goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
His eye would be nearly swollen shut.
Amazingly, he would not be severely injured.
Two matches later he was back in the starting lineup versus Chicago, and one match after that he would score his first career goal at Nashville.
“It was a great moment. I felt a little bit emotional, especially after getting hurt in a really bad collision in Cincinnati. I did everything to get back on the field, and to score a goal like that was a proud moment.”
Step by step
With two seasons in MLS, Brown has high standards for himself, but he doesn’t like to get ahead of himself.
“I don’t really like to talk before. I have goals set out, and I just want to be consistent. I want to be there for my team.”
He’s excited by the way the group has grown over his first two seasons, and he sees 2023 as a big year of opportunity.
“I’m really excited to see what next season brings. Gradually, we are building together and forming a unit. As a team next year we’re going to be hard to break.”
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