NEW YORK -- Now this certainly doesn't happen every day: one international defender from a CONCACAF country replaces another on the very same team.
Jamaica international left back Kemar Lawrence will replace the injured Roy Miller, who played for Costa Rica in last summer's World Cup, when the New York Red Bulls open their Major League Soccer home season against D.C. United on Sunday.
Lawrence was signed by the team Monday after his transfer from Harbour View FC in Jamaica was completed.
"He's a young player with a lot of potential," Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said Thursday, adding that the coaching thought Lawrence had "all qualities that we think that fits that position the way we want it to be played.
"The goal is to start him for this weekend and we think that he will do a very good job. The one thing about him is that he's pretty fearless. He's played in big games already. For a 22-year-old from Jamaica, he's already played against some really big players and in some big games. So I expect him to be ready and to do well on Sunday."
Lawrence, who has won 13 caps and was a member of the 2014 Caribbean Cup-winning side, looked forward to his latest challenge.
"It is a step in the right direction, and thanks to all my teammates, coaches, club, agent, family and friends," Lawrence said. "It was possible because they stuck around and kept their prayers going day after day, saying that there is going to be a breakthrough."
Lawrence began his youth career with Rae Town F.C. in the Jamaican second division and spent time in residency with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2009, when the club competed in the USL first division. His international career began with under-17 appearances for Jamaica. He was first called into the senior national team for a CONCACAF qualifier against Panama in September 2013 and earned his first cap in November that same year in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago.
Miller suffered a knee injury in training on Monday, but could be available to the Red Bulls for their March 28 match at the Columbus Crew. He has been called up by Costa Rica for upcoming friendlies against Paraguay (March 26) and Panama (March 31).
Marsch said Miller was on "a week-to-week basis."
"We've ruled him out for this weekend, we’ll see,” he finished. “He's been called up to Costa Rica. We're trying to figure out what the reality is for him, potentially for being available for Columbus as well."