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Jones proves to be right player, right time for surging Revs

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Photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

CARSON, Calif. — As head coach Jay Heaps and teammate Lee Nguyen heaped praise upon him ahead of Sunday’s MLS Cup finale, New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones could only smile before mustering just two words: “Thank you.”

Jones has plenty to be thankful for ahead of Sunday’s clash with the LA Galaxy. An MLS newcomer, Jones was seemingly dropped into the ideal situation by the league, who assigned the midfielder to the Revolution in a blind draw back in August.

Less than four months later, Jones and the Revs are one step away from bringing home the club’s first MLS Cup, as the U.S. Men’s National Team star has proved to be the right guy at the right time for the surging Revs.

“It was palpable. You could feel it,” Heaps said of Jones’ addition. “First of all, we knew we were in the running to get him, so there was energy around the process of getting him, but once Jermaine walked into the locker room, right away you could feel it. He just came off of the World Cup, but also what his career, what we’ve seen in his career, was amazing. When he walked in, you could tell right away how engaged he was with the players in the locker room, just how he connected from that first practice. That was going to be a great component. 

“I think early on a lot of people were asking for a big name DP and, quite frankly, myself and (General Manager) Mike Burns thought that that would be too soon, too quickly, and we wanted to be able to build a foundation first and then add someone like Jermaine, who really bought exactly what we were looking for, rather than go get something that we weren’t sure what to do with. Jermaine was the perfect piece at the perfect time.”

That piece proved to be exactly what the Revs needed, both on and off the field. As one of the league’s youngest teams, the Revs were in need of another leader. Jones has fit into that role seamlessly, but also cited his teammates willingness to learn as the key to the team’s success.

“All of the guys have so much talent,” Jones said, “and I always say that, and the good thing is that we’re like a small family. I can take that and go to Lee and say ‘You have to work back. Come on,’ and the guys aren’t going ‘Come on. Why are you talking like that?’ Everybody has to gel in and that’s important with why we’re there on Sunday.”

“This is a guy that I’ve always wanted to play alongside with and I’m so glad we got him,” added Nguyen. “He’s helped the team out so much, obviously. You can see it in more ways than one. He’s such a good teammate on and off the field and that’s what goes to show that this locker room is so close and when he came in, he gelled right in right away and felt like he’s been with us for three years. I know we’re happy to have him and I’m happy to have him.”

The Revs hope that happiness carries through to Sunday’s finale. Facing a loaded LA Galaxy side is a daunting task for every MLS team, but, despite the team’s youth, Jones firmly believes that the Revolution are ready to claim their first cup.

“We play in the final on Sunday,” Jones said, “but what would make me proud the most is that, when you see a young team with ups and downs throughout the season, that everybody started to concentrate following the game that we lost and you saw that after that loss to Columbus (in October). Everybody was focused.

“We’re young and we can make it happen, and we can bring the first cup back to New England.”

Comments

    • It gets me angry every time I think about it. The Fire had him all but locked up. People were already saying his signing was imminent. Then somehow the Revs stepped in and the league has a “blind draw” and the Fire lost him. He could have made the same difference on the Fire. I still think the league favors to teams on the coasts.

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