Tacoma, WA – Off the pitch, Jamael Cox is a soft-spoken, humble kid. On the pitch, he is a feisty, dynamic player, with a slight frame but a big game. He is relentless in his attack on the opposition.
Jamael is a product of the South-Sound, having attended Browns Point Elementary, Crescent Heights Elementary, Meeker Middle School, and Stadium High School. He started playing soccer from a young age and is heavily influenced by his older brother, Raphael, who played with the Tacoma Tide and Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. Rafael now plays for the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.
"My brother is six years older than me. Once he got his career started I knew I wanted to do the same thing,” Jamael said.
Jamael played club soccer for Federal Way Storm, Northwest Nationals, Washington Premier and Seattle Sounders FC U18 Academy team. It was with the Sounders FC Academy that Jamael really started to flourish and his talent and abilities were showcased.
Dick McCormick, Sounders FC Academy Head Coach, instructed Jamael during the 2010-2011 Academy season.
McCormick reflected on his time with Jamael, “I first saw Jamael play before I coached him. He was out on the wings a lot and sometimes the game wouldn’t come to him. He’d sort of accept that and stay out there. When I started coaching him I felt like his ability level was very high and he could do a lot of things that he hadn’t been asked to be done. I put him in the inside of midfield and center midfield. He has an amazing amount of fitness, his pace is top-notch, his vision and quickness--he has a full package of tools to work with and can play anywhere on the field."
After a highly successful season with the Sounders FC Academy, Cox spent time training with the Sounders FC First Team and even made an appearance for the Tacoma Tide against English side; Port Vale.
Over the winter he went on trial with a few European clubs in Germany and Scotland.
In Germany, he spent one week with Energie Cottbus, one week with a lower division club, and the last week was spent with FC Nuremberg. Despite not speaking the language, Jamael was undeterred by the daunting task. Instead, he made the most of his time in Germany and the experience proved valuable.
"It helped me a lot; my confidence went up a lot,” Cox said. “The level of play is great and it’s (good) to see what’s out there.”
After the confidence building experience in Germany, Cox spent one month with Scottish powerhouse, Glasgow Rangers.
"That was a really good experience. They train twice a day and I got a lot of good touches on the ball, which is great," he said.
With Rangers, he primarily trained with the reserve team and it’s certain his time training with the Sounders first team paid dividends in preparing him for the experience with Rangers.
"It’s very physical over there and it’s actually kind of fast over there too. [There’s] a lot of one-two touch and moving around," Cox described.
Jamael quickly made an impression on the coaching staff and it wasn’t long before the Scottish giants were interested in signing Cox to a contract. Unfortunately for Cox, the club’s financial situation prevented them from being able to close the deal. Since then, Rangers have essentially filed for bankruptcy.
"Yeah they did [want to sign me] but they had a little issue,” he said.
In March of 2012, following open tryouts, Jamael Cox signed with the Sounders FC U-23. The opportunity and experience to play for the Sounders FC U-23 side is something Cox is looking forward to:
"I think it’s going to be very good, we’ve got a lot of good players coming in and I think we’re going to be very successful."
Cox’s Academy coach is keeping a close eye on the team and has high hopes for the talented midfielder:
"He’s played with more adults now. When I do see him play I always want to see more out of him because I do rate him highly and he’s one of my favorite kids that I’ve coached. I think he’s doing well and I think he will benefit from being in a program with Darren (Sawatzky) and the U-23s where there is a bit more structure and somebody that’s making sure he’s doing the work," said McCormick.
There is little doubt that Jamael Cox possesses the raw ability and talent to play at the next level. The humble kid from Tacoma is hoping to realize his potential and continues to refine his game.
"I’m just working hard and hoping to get that home grown signing; I’m just going to keep on working hard and see what comes out of it," Cox said.
Next up for Jamel and the Sounders U-23 is a local rivalry with the defending PDL Champions, the Kitsap Pumas. The match is Saturday night, May 19 at Bremerton High School.
The following Friday, the Sounders will host their inaugural home match as a member of the PDL. That game kicks off on May 25 vs. Victoria at 7pm from Franklin Pierce High School. Tickets are available on SoundersU23.com for just $10. (CLICK HERE)
Don’t forget that May 30 marks a historic day when the U-23s will play at Cheney Stadium. They will be the first team to play soccer in the renovated Cheney Stadium, and before the match fans will have the chance to meet and greet the Sounders Women including Team USA stars. Tickets can be found on SoundersU23.com. (CLICK HERE)