Jermaine Jones may have only spent about a year-and-a-half with the New England Revolution, but he made an impact and his contributions will be missed.
The Revolution found a resolution late last week for the offseason-long dilemma of what do with Jones, surprisingly sending him to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for general allocation money and a first round draft pick in next year’s MLS Draft. Jones, 34, had seen his contract expire following the conclusion of the 2015 campaign, and never was able to come close to terms with the Revolution on a new deal despite both parties expressing interest in working something out.
Ultimately, their differences at the negotiating table caused for an awkward ending to Jones’ time in New England, with the former Designated Player publicly lashing out at their contract offers. Still, the Revolution hold no ill will towards him and are looking back fondly at what he helped them achieve.
“I loved coaching him,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps told SBI. “He wore his heart on his sleeve. There wasn’t a moment in a training session or a game where he didn’t leave it all on the field. For me, the biggest part of his game was what kind of footballer he was, not just competing and fighting and winning balls but also his ability to change the game.
“I think that stood out a lot in 2014, and 2015 was riddled with injuries, but when he did step on the field it was impactful and that’s as good a compliment as you can give.”
In his 17 months with the club, the U.S. Men’s National Team regular made 24 starts in 28 regular-season appearances and scored two goals while adding four assists. Jones was one of the main reasons why the club went on a run and reached the MLS Cup Final in 2014, but his sophomore season in MLS was plagued with injuries that prevented him from consistently playing to the best of his abilities.
Replacing Jones will nonetheless be difficult. He brought plenty of tenacity and leadership to the Revolution midfield, and his mere presence seemed to free up the club’s talented arsenal of attackers while also allowing him to be an offensive threat.
Moves have been made to try and fill the void that Jones has left behind, but the Revolution know that no one player will be able to pick up the slack.
“It’s a collective approach,” said Heaps on how to make up for the loss of Jones. “We had other players leave our group, and you can’t replace them with a like-for-like. It’s got to be a group effort. We added a little bit more bite, so we share the responsibility defensively and we’re a bit stronger physically with guys like Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson, but you’re also asking guys like Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell to step up and be impactful and can carry a little bit more of the burden.
“Then, on the offensive side, we feel like guys that we’ve brought back are really starting to find their groove, and we expect more from guys like Diego (Fagundez), guys like Kellyn (Rowe), guys like Lee (Nguyen).”
The Revolution are likely to see Jones again later this year, as the Rapids are set for a visit to Gillette Stadium on Sept. 3 in the two teams’ lone meeting of 2016. Jones might be a competitor and not a contributor then, but not even that will change how the Revolution reflect on their time together.
“Obviously happy that it worked out and always difficult to lose a player that was important to us,” said Heaps. “He wore his heart on his sleeve and played every day for our group. But at the same time, circumstances change and there was more to it than dollars and cents. There was a lot to do with getting him to a place where he wanted to be, closer to home, and I think there’s a lot that went on.
“I’m happy for him that he was able to find a solution and that he’ll be able to start playing again in MLS.”