By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Revolution front office and ownership were all in attendance for Tuesday afternoon’s introductory press conference with Jermaine Jones. Earlier in the day, following Jones’ first training session with the Revs, his new teammates had a chance to react as well.
“I’m thrilled,” said central midfielder Lee Nguyen, who should get even more freedom to get forward with Jones playing behind him at defensive midfielder. “The man was one of the best players for us in the World Cup and he’s going to be a big lift for us going for the playoff push here.”
Nguyen said he met Jones for the first time yesterday, but the two walked from the locker room to the field together and Nguyen said they’ve already begun to get along. That was also evident later in the practice when the two connected several times during a short scrimmage.
One player who already knew Jones previously is forward Charlie Davies, who said he met Jones through mutual U.S. Men’s National Team friends in 2010 and has been in contact with him ever since, even getting dinner in Los Angeles together previously.
“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we can do big things this season,” said Davies, who added that he was part of the recruitment process to bring Jones to New England.
For his part, Jones called Davies “a good friend” during his introductory presser.
“It’s something that had to be done and finally the Revolution made a big splash in MLS showing that they have intentions to be one of the top teams in MLS,” Davies said.
Both Davies and midfielder Kelyn Rowe said they think Jones’ experience training with top European clubs will provide an example for the other players in terms of preparation.
“Obviously, it’s his first training with us,” Rowe said, “but I think come next week, come maybe even tomorrow he’s going to be that best player on the field.”
ROWE SHIFTS TO RIGHT WING
Looking for a spark, the Revs shook up their usual starting lineup for last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA.
The 22-year-old Rowe, traditionally an attacking central midfielder, shifted to the right wing, which moved Teal Bunbury to the bench and allowed Lee Nguyen to partner with Daigo Kobayashi, a tandem that worked well for New England earlier in the season.
“Playing the wing is a little different,” Rowe said on Tuesday. “I think in some points of the game I need to learn to stay outside and that’s just coming with playing out wide rather than in the middle.”
Although Rowe’s skill set would seem to make him a better fit to play centrally, the move did pay off in the short term as Rowe combined with Kobayashi to help set up Nguyen’s 56th-minute winner.
Also worth noting is that coach Jay Heaps system allows freedom for his wingers, usually Bunbury and Diego Fagundez, to rotate relatively freely depending on the situation.
“(Heaps) liked the fact that I went in and created things in the middle, connected with Lee (Nguyen) and interchanged with Lee every once in a while, with Charlie (Davies),” Rowe said. “If we keep finding connections, whether it’s inside or outside, it doesn’t really matter.”
TAYLOR MAKES HIS REVOLUTION DEBUT
Overshadowed by the Jermaine Jones news was the Revs debut of another player with European experience, 25-year-old former U.S. youth international Tony Taylor, who got in a brief run subbing in at center forward for Davies in the 81st minute versus Chivas.
Heaps and Revs general manager Mike Burns have both hinted that they see Taylor contributing out wide, although Taylor said Tuesday he sees himself more as a forward.
“I feel most comfortable at striker or second striker,” Taylor said. “In Europe they played me a lot on the wings as well, and I also played No. 10, so I think it’s a great thing that I’ve played in many different positions. Wherever the coaches need me, I’m there to help.”
After spending four years in Portugal and Cyprus, Taylor said the ability of MLS to produce senior level national team players helped sell him on a return home to the United States.
“I’d been in Europe for a while, overall it had gone well,” Taylor said. “I just felt like it was the right time after we (the U.S. Men’s National Team) did so good in the World Cup with a big mix of MLS players there. It proves how great the league is doing and I thought it was a good time to come back home.”
REVS SUPPORTERS CLASH WITH GILLETTE STADIUM SECURITY
It’s not all good news down in Foxboro, as last weekend the Revolution supporters’ section, nicknamed “The Fort,” had a run-in with the security group that works at Gillette Stadium, named TeamOps, at last weekend’s game.
Revs supporter Scott Parmenter tweeted that he was one of two people escorted out of the game by TeamOps, following what appeared to be a breach in stadium policy regarding profanity.
Multiple accounts from supporters within The Fort report that the expletives used were part of a larger chant and not solely from the supporters ejected from the game.
The Fort appeared to protest the move as roughly half of the section move elsewhere in the stadium for at least the remainder of the first half.
One of the team’s largest supporters’ groups, the Midnight Riders, released a statement last Sunday that read, in part: “We are unsure why these two individuals were singled out. We are also more concerned that the security protocol established after “FortGate” was totally disregarded (i.e., security asks supporters group leaders to intervene before making ejections). We are in contact with the team, as always, and will be working to better understand why events transpired as they did last night.”
FortGate is a reference to a similar event that took place during the 2011 season.
Revs president Brian Bilello tweeted the following on Saturday: “In terms of tonight in the fort, our liaison has already been talking with Riders leadership and will work on sorting things out.”
What do you think of the players reactions to the Jermaine Jones signing? Should the Revs continue to employ Rowe on the wing? Any thoughts on the incident in The Fort?
Share your thoughts below.