Je-Vaughn Watson has left the building. The popular veteran and FC Dallas have “mutually agreed to terminate the defender’s contract” according to a press release FC Dallas issued Thursday.
First of all, aren’t all agreements mutual, by definition? Seriously, it’s probably generous of the club to call the agreement “mutual,” since it’s likely they’re pretty disappointed to lose Watson, who has steadily improved since he joined FC Dallas on Feb. 19, 2013. He had worked his way up from puzzling bit-player to become one of the team’s most versatile contributors, appearing in 27 games last year, with starts at left back, center back, right back, and right midfielder. He even finished the season on an offensive flourish, with two assists in FC dallas’ most recent two playoff games.
But as much as Watson will be missed on the field, the loss of his contributions in the locker room may be worse. Long known as one of the more outlandish and outspoken characters on FC Dallas, Watson is proud of his reputation for improving team morale with his antics. He talked about it just before he left camp.
“I’m just a jovial guy. I like to smile. Even before the game in the locker room, I’m the guy who likes to tell jokes, having guy smiling and having a lot of fun, because I’m that type of person…. when I’m like that, I tend to play better,” Watson said. “Last year, everybody would play music in the locker room and try to get me to dance and stuff. Whenever you’re in a workplace, regardless of where it is. Every day we come out here, we run, the practice is hard, so sometimes if you get a chance to smile, it relieves stress, it’s good for everybody.”
Watson said that FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja would notice when he was not his usual positive self.
“Even Oscar always tells me, whenever I have a strange face and not smiling, he knows it’s not a good day,” Watson said. “Whenever I smile, that’s the best part of me.”
Watson says it’s just in his genes. “Because we in Jamaica are like, ‘no problem,’ we just like to have fun.”
It’s worth mentioning, also, that FC Dallas is gaining an odd reputation lately, what with this departure and the recent parting with stud veteran goalkeeper Dan Kennedy — to conference rivals the Galaxy — for basically nothing. An independent observer would have to say Dallas came out very poorly in both deals.
However, if that independent observer has seen the way MLS operates, they might think differently. The league has long maintained a cloak of secrecy, the better to be able to bend the rules and make executive decisions for the betterment of the league. Both the Watson contract termination and the Kennedy trade for next-to-nothing were seemingly selfless actions by the club meant to fulfill the wishes of the player involved. It could be argued that both actions helped the league as well, since it gives the players — both of whom are quality starters in a growing league that needs all the quality on the field it can get — a better chance to see the field. It also, if only a little bit, improves the reputation of a league that would surely like to be seen as taking care of players, especially quality international stars like Watson, who could just as easily play in several other leagues around the world, but chose to come to MLS.
In the apparent MLS environment of behind-the-scenes dealmaking and secret pulling-of-strings, FC Dallas could be the wise ones in collecting favors from the MLS godfathers in the league offices. Don’t be surprised if FC Dallas becomes the mysterious beneficiary of some good luck down the road as the year progresses. Just a crazy conspiracy theory? Only the MLS front office knows for sure, and they’re notoriously quiet about these things.
Watch the video above for the complete, unedited exclusive conversation with JeVaughn Watson just before leaving preseason training camp 2016.