Major League Soccer, which is notorious for its demanding travel schedule and physical play, can be a hard league to join. Even international stars like Tim Cahill and Rafael Marquez have struggled to cope with the challenges of the league. With two goals and three assists in seven appearances with the New England Revolution, it’s safe to say that Jermaine Jones’ transition to MLS has been seamless.
Jones’ latest moment of brilliance came in 67th minute of the Revolution’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. Jones, who received a yellow minutes earlier, was able to shake his defender and nod in a Chris Tierney cross. It was a goal that showcased Jones’ soccer smarts.
“I thought Jermaine timed it so well,” head coach Jay Heaps said. “To me, he just has a really great sense of the game and so to get that open on a free kick is really good.”
The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, improved the Revolution’s record to 5-0-0 when Jones is in the starting lineup. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Jones has collected an assist or goal in each of his starts.
Jones’ success isn’t much of a surprise to his teammates as the German-American has been a great fit both on and off the field.
“Jermaine, he’s world class.,” Lee Nguyen praised. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win. He fits perfectly into our system and what we’re trying to do. You could tell right away that he was going to fit in well with these guys.”
Jones’ talent hasn’t gone unnoticed by other MLS players. More than a defensive midfielder, Jones has proven lethal in the attacking third. As a result, opponents are clearly keying in on the US international when developing their game plans.
“When I first came to the MLS, I got a little more space on the ball,” Jones noted. “After a few games, teams started to put a man on me the whole time playing physical and hard. It’s ok though, I have to stay patient and be smart.”
More than anything else, however, Jones believes that he just has to be himself.
When pressed to reveal the secret of why he has found instant success in MLS while players like the returning Clint Dempsey and the experienced Freddie Ljungberg needed time, Jones only had one thing to say:
“I try to bring my style of play in the MLS,” Jones said. “I don’t care if I play in Germany, Turkey, England, or in the MLS – I will always play my style.”
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)