The Haitian Connection: James Marcelin and Jean Alexandre
Saturday night’s match at JELD-WEN Field is not only a meeting of two MLS Western Conference foes with the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake. It is also a contest that will feature two friends, former teammates, and countrymen.
Portland midfielder James Marcelin, and Real Salt Lake midfielder Jean Alexandre are currently the only two active MLS players of Haitian descent. The 2009 MLS SuperDraft 12th overall pick, Alexandre is enjoying his third season with Real Salt Lake.
“I know Alexandre,” Marcelin said. “He’s a good player and he works really hard.”
The two midfielders played alongside each other for Haiti in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup helping direct their team to the quarterfinals before losing to Mexico.
Marcelin’s path to Saturday night’s match went through the USL where he debuted with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2008. After two seasons in Puerto Rico, Marcelin found himself with the Portland Timbers in 2010 and played well enough to earn a roster spot for the 2011 inaugural MLS season.
While there is no doubt that the Timbers first two home games were special, Saturday night’s game will have a whole different meaning for the two opposing midfielders as it will be the first time the fellow Haitian internationals could line up against each other.
“I’m really excited,” Marcelin said. “I’m really happy for him so I’d love it if he played and I’d be really excited to play against him.”
Even though they will be wearing enemy colors on Saturday, there is nothing but respect between the two former teammates.
“He’s a really nice guy,” Marcelin said. “He works hard and he’s a good teammate.”