Going into a season in a new league, with a new team, with new surroundings, and a new coaching staff is not something any player finds easy. Becoming a rookie once again, trying to make an impression, and stand out beyond others is a task Jahmali Waite is facing during the 2019 season with Reading United. Waite is rising to the challenge and after his first four starts he finishes with four scoreless games and earns a spot on USL League Two’s Team of the Week.
Jahmali Waite made his debut for Reading United and USL League Two against FA Euro during United’s home opener. After suffering an injury last season which prevented the 6’ goalkeeper from making United’s roster, Head Coach Alan McCann was excited to have him healthy this season with the team.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper was just as excited to be a part of the team, “I had been working hard in training leading up to the game so I was physically and mentally prepared to play in that FA Euro Game. After seeing I got the start, my goal was to then help the team in whatever way I could.”
After 90 minutes of play, the Jamaican born keeper faced nine shots making five saves ending with a clean sheet as the final whistle blew for 1-0 United victory. “I was very excited after that game getting the win along with the shutout,” Jahmali said. When asked about his role during the game, he noted, “You always have to make sure you are communicating and talking to your defenders. Tell them where to go becuase you are basically the eyes for them, you see everything.”
The Union Academy grad has brought key strengths to the club that every team looks for in a goalkeeper. Coach McCann shared, “[Jahmali’s] distribution has been a big help to the team and he is a calming, commanding figure. He may find himself in games that he only has one or two things to do and in that moment he has to be ready. It can be the difference in a team winning or losing a game where the smallest margins make the difference.”
The junior at Fairleigh Dickinson University, found himself back at school this summer when United took on Cedar Stars Rush who utilizes FDU’s stadium as their home turf. Some of Waite’s FDU teammates play for Rush as he commented, “I felt very comfortable going back to Fairleigh Dickinson to play against Cedar Stars” … “that game was something we all looked forward to and talked about during the spring.” The backstop from FDU helped United came back to Reading that night with another shutout victory by one. During the game, the impassable goalkeeper saw six shots and made one save to keep his clean slate running.
Waite’s third shutout game was Sunday, June 9 against Long Island Rough Riders. During the match the score for both teams stayed at goose eggs as both teams accumulated five shots each. Waite did not even have to make a save within the 90 minute game.
The unstoppable keeper’s most recent shutout game came on the road in Brooklyn against FA Euro on June 12. The only goal of the match came in the 63’ as they denied FA Euro all their chances to equalize the game. As the clock ticked through added time, FA Euro had one last shot right in front of the net. However, United’s brick wall in net, denied their last chance and the whistle blew ending the game. At the end of the game, Waite now finds himself with four starts and four shutout games.
As United inches their way up in the standings of the 2019 season, pressure continues to grow on the club and goalkeepers as they are now in a 25 game streak without a loss during the regular season. Coach McCann does his best to keep the team focused by the environment in which he surrounds the team in. “The high quality of our training environment is how [the coaching staff] keeps everyone focused. We have a training environment where you have to come in everyday ready to be at your peak because if you don’t [two] or [three] other lads in your position are performing at peak and earning a sport in the team.”
Jahmali Waite will continue his strides with United as he keeps staying focused, training hard, and preparing himself to be ready whenever he is called upon. The next opportunity for fans to come out and see the Philadelphian goalkeeper in action at home inside Gurski Stadium this Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM!
Saturday night’s game is Kicks Against Cancer night where Reading will be wearing special black and gold jerseys in conjunction with Team 17 Strong and the Anthony Myers Movement. Tickets can be purchased for $5 online at readingunitedac.com/tickets and will jump to $10 at the gate on game day. Season tickets are still available for $20 and will cover the final five remaining home games and can be purchased through the same link.