In soccer, it’s always beneficial to your international career to have success with your club team. Colorado Switchbacks FC midfielder Andre Lewis has been working hard on his club career in the United States and in Jamaica while also hoping to secure his position with the Jamaican national team.
Lewis was a first-round selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He went on loan with Charleston Battery FC and Whitecaps 2 before joining Portland Timbers FC 2. Following years playing in MLS and the USL, Lewis went back to his native Jamaica for the 2019 season with Portmore United. “Going back home and play(ing) with Portmore United was a decision made by me and my agent. We know about the Gold Cup coming up and I wanted to be apart of that because I always wanted to represent my country,” Lewis, who appeared in four Gold Cup matches, told BGN. “Playing with Portmore United would set me up with more opportunities to play in front of the National team coach because Portmore is one of the best teams in the country.”
“With the most championships and a team that’s will always be in the playoffs or the final of the playoffs, and that’s where the better players always show their talent. Also playing back home gave me a chance to at least going to local camps and show my talent in front the coaches on a daily basis that I can be apart of the team whenever selection time comes.”
After winning a Jamaican National Premier League title with Portmore, a former coach convinced Andre to return to the United States. “Alan (Koch) was the reason why I came back to the US. I worked with Alan in the past in Vancouver,” Lewis said. He added that Koch is an amazing coach that always pushed him to the limited and wants the best for his players. Lewis also mentioned Koch’s MLS experience and the USL regular season title with FC Cincinnati as motivations to join the Switchbacks family.
Lewis has played in nine matches thus far and has one goal, 88% passing accuracy, and 93% success on tackles. He’s helped the club avoid defeat in four straight matches, but all of those matches have been draws. The club currently sits in third in Group C, ten points behind second-place El Paso Locomotive FC. “At the moment, I am really motivated that we can turn things around. As a team, we have been working harder in training on a few areas that we need to improve on,” Lewis explained. “With the coach’s support and encouragement and the skills that they provide to us, we still have hope that we can turn things if we apply every that they (have) given to us.”
While his primary goal is helping Switchbacks FC achieve as much success as possible, Lewis is also still aiming to solidify his position with the Jamaican national team. “I’m confident that I could get called up but the national team is not guaranteed to anyone that you will always be apart of the team.. so I hope I will be apart of the team when it’s that time,” he said. “But in the meantime, I’m just here focusing on playing and performing so when that time comes let’s see what happens.” He’s made seven total appearances for the Reggae Boyz and added that representing his country at the highest level is a dream come true and playing for his friends, family, and the entire country is huge.
With the Reggae Boyz, Lewis gets the honor to play for Jamaican soccer legend Theodore Whitmore, who scored both goals in the country’s only World Cup win of all-time (vs. Japan at World Cup 98). “Playing for Theodore Whitmore is easy because he’s a coach that interacts with the players and always try to make sure everyone is comfortable playing out there,” he said. “He would sometime train with us and that’s big because he knows his players and the way how we all play.”
He recalled watching Whitmore play and his dad and family cheer for him and knowing he’s the coach now gives drives to a young player because of his legendary status.
What does the Portmore, St. Catherine native think is the biggest misconception that Americans have about his native country? “I think the biggest misconception people think about Jamaica is that whenever you are there alone you will be robbed which I disagree with because we are nice and love to vibe,” he answered. “So, whenever tourists come to our country (we) always want to make sure they have a good time also embrace our culture and try to let see what Jamaica is about.” Lewis includes the music, beach, food people, and the sun as some of the things that make Jamaica special.
Some of that special music he mentioned is performed by some of his favorite artists like Chronic Law, Popcaan, Jah Vinci, Alkaline, and Bob Marley. Just like those talented musicians, Lewis was molded for greatness during his upbringing in Jamaica. “Growing up in Portmore helps me to become the person I am today,” he said. “It helped me to be kind and loving to others and humble at the same time. Also, it gave me my first love which is soccer/football.” He also expressed gratitude that his mom was always there for him and sacrificed to make everything alright as he grew up.
Next up for Lewis will be a trip to Zions Bank Stadium tomorrow as the Switchbacks look to pick up a much-needed win. After he tries to push the club into the USL Championship postseason, Lewis will hope to parlay a quality club season into a position with the Reggae Boyz to help them qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.