Jermaine Jones has certainly been busy.
Less than two weeks after being allocated to the New England Revolution, Jones has already played in two games. The midfielder made his league debut on Saturday when he entered in the 65th minute against Toronto FC. Four days later, he got his first glimpses of the Foxboro faithful when he started and played 45 minutes against Sporting KC.
The progression is part of a well-orchestrated plan that is meant to get Jones back on the field without risking injury or fatigue.
“His plan was 45 minutes tonight,” head coach Jay Heaps explained. “The way we looked at it, working with our strength coaches, was that we wanted to give him a proper warm up so he got a full warm up before the game; possession, moving the ball and so that he could go into the game and attack the game that way.”
Jones got his first touch on the ball soon after the kickoff as the German-American launch an aerial pass to Teal Bunbury. While the winger wasn’t able to control the ball, the moment did serve as a preview of things to come.
In the 45th minute, Jones would send a searching ball to Bunbury after winning a midfield battle. The long-range pass changed the point of attack and provided Bunbury with a great scoring opportunity. The former KC man beat Seth Sinovic before hitting a powerful shot that deflected off Matt Besler and went into the back of the net.
Although the final strike required a bit of fortune, the play was something that came straight from the training ground.
“We talked a lot about that play in training,” Jones enlightened. “I told [Bunbury] that I was going to play the ball over the top, and it was funny that it actually worked out today during the game.”
The play would be Jones’ last significant achievement of night as he would watch the remainder of the game from the sidelines. Jones admitted he asked the coaching staff for more minutes but his plea was rejected because they wanted to be cautious.
Even on the bench, Jones’ competitiveness and passion were on full display.
“On the sideline tonight he lived and died every play,” Heaps said. “That’s what you love about a player like him because he brings so much to the field but, at the same time he’s showing these professionals that caring about every little play matters.”
Although he only played 45 minutes, Jones’ influence was certainly felt as he offered crunching tackles, crucial passes and keen leadership. With such an impact made in only a brief amount of time, the Revs are optimistic about what Jones will provide when fully fit.
The next opportunity for Jones to get on the field will be Sunday when the Revolution face the Chicago Fire. The home game will have additional weight since both teams were very public about their pursuit of Jones.
“It’s a special game because it was one of the teams that wanted me,” Jones stated. “Now I am a player for New England and I will try to win for us.”
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)