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Jones provides killer instinct for Revs playoff run

Jermaine Jones-Thierry Henry (USA Today Images)

Photo by Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports


HARRISON, N.J. — When the New England Revolution were stuck in an eight-game losing streak leading up to the team’s summer acquisition of Jermaine Jones, the problem wasn’t necessarily talent.

The Revs are predominantly a collection of young players on the rise, and their locker room is one of the most cohesive in the league, but they just didn’t have enough veteran leadership to compete. Now Eastern Conference finalists, at one point in July the Revs fell four games below a .500 record.

It couldn’t be a more opposite vibe now, as Jones delivered not just the quality, but the urgency the Revs needed in their Eastern Conference Final first leg win Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.

While MVP candidate Lee Nguyen had said during the previous week that an away draw would be an acceptable result, Jones begged to differ, venturing forward for an 85th-minute winner that puts the Revolution in an enviable position heading into the second leg on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

“We not scared, we go there to beat New York,” Jones said at last Thursday’s training session.

Knowing that Bradley Wright-Phillips would be suspended for the second game, and that the Red Bulls were pushing for a second goal of their own, Jones’ instinct was still to join Nguyen in a late counterattack and the risk paid off when Teal Bunbury centered it to Jones for the winning tap in.

“I want to win,” Jones said when asked why he didn’t stay at home on the play. “That is the point.”

It’s that killer instinct the Revs were missing when they got hot at the end of the 2013 season and made the playoffs. New England held a 2-1 lead over eventual champion Sporting KC after the first leg of the conference semifinal series, but they bungled the second game and lost in overtime.

This time around, in this current core group’s second trip to the postseason, things have been different. After beating the Columbus Crew, 4-2, in the first game of the conference semifinals, the Revolution shut the door emphatically with another two-goal margin of victory in the second leg.

“A lot of sleepless nights from day one trying to build a great core of young players and try to get to where you’re a strong foundation and then you add the right player,” said Revs coach Jay Heaps, who took over a five-win team three seasons ago. “I think Jermaine has really helped us get over the top.”

Jones has been everything the Revolution could have hoped for on the field, but he’s also been the final piece psychologically, convincing his teammates that this could be the year New England finally captures its elusive first title — it would be the Revs’ fifth MLS Cup appearance if they make it.

“He’s a competitor first and foremost, I think that what you sense,” Heaps said. “Then you add the class on top of that, but he wants it, and that shows. If he wants it, the guy next to him better want it, because Jermaine’s a leader by what he does and how he plays, and it’s contagious.”

If you’re willing to ignore Andy Dorman’s one-minute substitute appearance, the 33-year-old Jones is four years older than any other Revs player to see the field on Sunday. Seven of their field players were 26 or under, while 27-year-old goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth is still relatively new to starting.

“What I always say is it’s a young team, but this team has to trust in each other,” Jones said on Sunday after leading the Revs to their 11th win in 13 games since joining the team.

“It’s a lot of quality in that game and when you see Red Bull, the players that they have with the names, it’s big names compared to what we have,” Jones said. “I always try to say before the game, play, play. I see what the guys they show in training, and in games like in the Columbus home game, when we play, we have the quality to beat anybody.”

It was Jones who challenged Thierry Henry early on, helping set a tone that even though the Revs had never before won at Red Bull Arena, they wouldn’t let the history hold them back. It was Jones who saw an opportunity for a win and went at it full bore, providing a veteran’s example.

“I think the pressure was a lot on me, people were thinking how it will work when he comes to New England,” Jones said last Thursday. “The pressure is nice. It’s cool. We still in the playoffs.

“Now we try to get the cup.”

What did you think of Jermaine Jones’ performance on Sunday? Who has been more important to the Revs’ success, Jones or Lee Nguyen? Will Jones be able to lead the Revs into the MLS Cup final?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. If my Sounders were not in it, there is zero doubt who I would be rooting for.
    Don’t bet against young Americans.

  2. I was actually impressed by how the game was officiated. Lots of rough and overzealous tackles from both teams. They were all called, but in a way that didn’t decide the outcome based on those. Both Jones and Ecklersley could’ve been sent off, but they were cautioned and life went on. BWP has no one to blame but himself, that was a stupid decision to interfere with the goalie. The game wasn’t decided based on cards, it was based on who finished more of their chances, just like it should be.

    • Agreed.

      Jones was lucky to not get a red, but that doesn’t mean it is some huge conspiracy or “another” example of bad MLS refs. It was a crazy game, this is MLS, guys want to win, and the ref did a good job to keep it under control.

  3. Well if by killer instinct you mean being physical the. You are spot on but the headline should read MLS refs lack the killer instinct to ref a playoff game. The ref lost control of the game! At one point henry was stopping jones head just to bring so calm to the field. The offsides is glaring. The fact that not even the tv analyst caught it boggles the mind. Mls will always be second tier with refs like these. No better than the nonsense that occurs in liga mx and other low level leagues!

  4. The very same Jones that should be playing for the Fire. Instead MLS broke their own rules and allowed the Revs to get Jones with a blind draw. What a joke.

    • It is weird that noone in the Fire organization is screaming about getting screwed over.
      Just seems to be commentors on blog sites.

    • It had nothing to do with a blind draw. Chicago offered $1 Million per year and he wanted more money so he said no. The revs came by and offered him $3 Million for 18 months and he said yes. Nothing to scream about. Im shocked the revs actually spent money for once.

  5. If the MLS was really fair and did the RIGHT thing.. Forget the prestige and $$ for a minute here.. Just talking Rules and Regs of soccer..

    Then both Eckersley and Jones should miss the finals. Jones absolutely positevly was a red card foul on Dax but because Dax did not roll around on the ground for 4 min, Jones escaped. As for Eckersley, he was waaaay to aggressive and 2 or 3 times would have easily been a 2nd yellow so there you have it. That said $100 to anyone who disagrees with me and the league does the right thing. As for BWP that was just plain stupid..sad but his season is over.

  6. Hey, MLS – how about some fairness by reviewing this tackle and suspending him for a game?

    Luyindula had the exact same scissor tackle, was shown a yellow, then the DisCo reviewed it and suspended him for a game earlier this year. Do the right thing MLS and suspend Jones for the 2nd leg.

    Will never happen, not to the “newcomer of the year.” Not when Cohiba Don loves his JJ stories in the media.

  7. He played really well. Desrved a red for the challenge on Dax. Hope the Disciplenary Committee is fair about this and suspends him for a game.
    Also kinda crappy to shoot on goal after an injury restart.

    Also. Wouldn’t have been surprised with a red for Eckersley or some DC action his way too.

  8. Was Stott the only ref given instructions?

    Jones really should’ve seen a red card.

    Way too suspicious and I’m someone who hates both these teams

    • A red would have been harsh for that tackle, but it wouldn’t have been shocking. I think he was spared a red for the tackle because McCarty was moving away from Jones, not towards him. That said, it was a big risk for Jones to take.

      I don’t think there were any instructions given as the NY/NE game had 10 yellows, including Jones, Henry, BWP, Nguyen, and Cahill, arguably the 5 highest profile players in that particular game.

      Nevertheless, everyone loves a good conspiracy theory…

      • Dunno about harsh but its not insane he didn’t get a red. Sometimes bad tackles just don’t.

        Find the tackle that injured Marco Reus again this weekend. It’s just as bad as Jones and it was only a yellow. It happens.

      • Olave saw red on the same tackle last year in the playoffs. That said, there’s a better chance of a meteor sttrike on the game than of the DisCo suspending JJ.

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