Shavon John-Brown:”I don’t want to say I made the right decision, but I feel some type of weight for not being able to help my club team, knowing that I could have made a difference.” (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
Even before he left to play for Grenada in the Concacaf Nations League last week, Shavon John-Brown admits he had mixed feelings leaving his Cosmos teammates prior to a vital NPSL Members Cup match.
“To be honest, I still think about it as the days go by,” he said. “I feel like I could have helped the team in some aspects of the game. I thought about it. Most of the time I was just thinking about staying. In the long term it was a shot to make the [Concacaf] Gold Cup. The team said that they actually would like to have me. I know the Cosmos wanted to have me. So, I had to make a decision.”
It wasn’t an easy one, considering John-Brown was one of the best players on the field, setting up one goal and tallying another in back-to-back Cosmos victories.
“I don’t want to say I made the right decision, but I feel some type of weight for not being able to help my club team, knowing that I could have made a difference,” he said.
John-Brown traveled to the Caribbean to help his national side try to clinch its first Concacaf Gold Cup berth since the 2011 competition. Still, he had an eye on what was transpiring between the Cosmos and Detroit City FC, a game that would go a long way in deciding the league champion. Detroit City FC won at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. last Saturday, 2-1, to douse the Cosmos’ title hopes.
“I had practiced the same day, same time,” John-Brown said. “Right after practice I grabbed my phone, tried to find a link for the game. It was 2-0 and I was just heartbroken at the time.”
While John-Brown felt he was a in a no-win situation stuck between club and country, Grenada made a couple of more steps during winning the League B, Group A title. The Spice Boyz tied at French Guiana, 0-0, on Thursday, Oct. 10, before registering a 1-0 home win on Sunday, Oct. 13.
“Team did pretty good, to be honest,” John-Brown said. “The first game was really tough. We were playing away. We had never played against them before, so we had to adjust. We came out with a point. The second time was also pretty tough, but at that time we had figured out. We made some changes. We went a man down. We just came together and got a goal.”
Grenada played the final 31 minutes a man down after Ricky Modeste was red carded in the 59th minute, but the squad grinded out a valuable win and three points as Jamal Charles scored five minutes later.
“It’s a group of guys who are willing to work with each other,” John-Brown said. “So, being a man down, I was not sure we were even a man down. We just wanted to get the victory.”
Entering the final month of competition, Grenada (3-0-1, 10 points) leads its group with a five-point margin over second-place French Guiana (1-1-2, 5). In November, the Spice Boyz need only one win in their final two matches to clinch the group title and a Gold Cup spot. They visit Saint Kitts and Nevis on Nov. 14 before hosting Belize on Nov. 17.
John-Brown returned to New York on Tuesday and rejoined his teammates for training the next day. Head coach Carlos Mendes didn’t want to push the forward too much on his first day back.
“I wanted to do more,” John-Brown said. “Did some things to make my legs lighter. I didn’t play much.”
Now, the Cosmos must focus on winning their final game of the season at Napa Valley 1839 FC on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET, even though they cannot win the title after Detroit City FC clinched it with a 1-0 away win at Michigan Stars FC on Wednesday night.
“Like coach said, when you’re doing your job, you just got to do any means possible,” John-Brown said. “We can’t say that the game doesn’t matter. Every game matters, from the first game. We’re getting paid to do our jobs. So, we’ve just got to go and get a victory. That’s a mindset. You can’t go there with a mindset that we’ve already lost the [title]. Don’t matter. You’ve got to go there and fight. We’re not just playing for ourselves. We’re playing for the fans and everybody who believes in the Cosmos.”