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Bethlehem Steel FC defender learning from Gold Cup experience with Jamaica

19-year-old Jamoi Topey hasn’t featured for the Reggae Boyz but still benefiting from the opportunity

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Jamoi Tope in training with the Jamaica national team at the NovaCare Complex in South Philly on June 27, 2019
Photo by Matt Ralph

Bethlehem Steel’s back line has been missing a key player over the last few weeks because of the Gold Cup in center back Jamoi Topey.

The 19-year-old has been away on international duty with Jamaica and while he hasn’t featured for the Reggae Boyz in the tournament, he was in high spirits in his return to the area earlier this week with the team.

“It’s very good to be around these wonderful guys,” Topey said after a training session in South Philly on Thursday.

On and off the field in training, you could see Topey getting along with his teammates. He was the target of some friendly razzing when one teammate pretended to be holding up a microphone when he was being interviewed.

“I’m just learning from them,” he said of his fellow Reggae Boyz. “The older guys just try to push the younger guys to do better.”

Topey made his senior national debut in March against Costa Rica but picked up an injury that kept him out of the Steel starting lineup for five games. The 6-foot-6 center back has seven appearances under his belt in his first season in the USL Championship and has contributed on the score sheet with a goal and an assist.

“He’s one of our top young talents,” Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said earlier this week. “It’s good for him to be around guys like Shaun Francis, Je-Vaughn Watson and (former Reading United defender) Damion Lowe. He’ll pick up a lot from those experiences.”

Burke called Topey “an elite passer out of the back” but noted that there are aspects of his game that still need fine tuning and areas he can be more consistent.

“He just has stuff in his locker most guys don’t,” Burke said.

The Gold Cup campaign has given Topey a chance to work more closely with Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, who is trying to captain Jamaica back to the Gold Cup final for the third straight time. They lost in the final in 2017 to the U.S. and to Mexico in the 2015 final.

“It’s very good for him right now to be among the group to start to get integrated and to understand the style of play and what it’s like out on the international level,” Blake said after training in South Philly. “I think he can become a great player, but he just has to keep working and I think the positive for him is he’s still young and he’s already in the system.”

How to Watch

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: 5:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, June 30, 2019
TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMás and Univision Deportes?
Stream: FoxSports.com, Fox Sports app (with cable subscription) or FuboTV (affiliate link).*

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