Jermaine Jones, the gladiator in dreads, is coming to New England in a shocking turn of events. This move not only brings the elite player to Foxboro, but points to a new age in the Kraft front office. Jones' contract will cost the Revolution upwards of $4.5 million, shattering all sequential logic as the Revs organization is regularly blamed for obsessive frugality. However, there is no need for me to introduce Jones to any of you, because that is exactly what everyone else is doing. The question that needs to be answered now is: what can Jones bring to a team in the playoff hunt from a tactical and mental standpoint?
I like to think of Jones as someone who fully represents the fundamental principles of yin-yang. Allow me to explain.
Perhaps the greatest asset that Jones brings to the team is his versatility, in that he possesses a rare combination of finesse and power, something invaluable for a true center midfielder to have. As a player, he is a tireless runner who will go box-to-box for the entire 90 minutes. He will provide a massive defensive presence, even when he's in a more advanced position. His defensive prowess is his yang side.
While Jones carries a reputation for being a classic tough guy in the middle of the park, the recent World Cup illuminated another side of Jones that many were unfamiliar with. This other Jones is the player that can provide key passes, retain possession, create with the ball at his feet, and of course, score goals--just ask Portugal. This is his yin side.
This combination of both the yin and yang attributes brings a new dimension altogether to a team that likes to attack and it's the reason that the Revs pushed so hard to add Jones to the roster. So where will he play, and how will those attributes benefit the Revs?
Like I mentioned before, Jones is versatile and could very well play in any of the three center midfield spots in Jay Heaps' 4-1-4-1 formation. It is important to note here that the Jones we all saw at the World Cup was not always playing in a defensive midfield role as Kyle Beckerman held the true DM spot. The Revs could look to replicate this system by pairing Jones with Scott Caldwell or Andy Dorman. This would allow Jones to play higher up the field.
Even though it's a possibility that he plays alongside Lee Nguyen in the middle, we will most likely see Jones taking up the reigns as the lone defensive midfielder, a role currently held by Caldwell. In New England, Jones will likely be responsible for playing in front of the back four while acting as a link to the attack. The beauty of this role, however, is that it's not as rigid as it may seem.
Indeed, the single defensive midfield role won't confine Jones' movement, as he will be allowed to move freely throughout the center of the field and attack when the Revs are in possession - something neither Dorman or Caldwell were particularly fond of doing. In addition, his defensive prowess significantly strengthens the team as a whole because it will allow playmakers like Diego Fagundez, Daigo Kobayashi, Kelyn Rowe, and Lee Nguyen to move about more freely in attack without having to track back as much and cover.
Stepping away from the tactics, Jones could also very well impact the psyche of his new teammates for the better. If you think about it, it would only be natural for players to want to prove themselves to the biggest signing in club history, a player who happens to have played at on the world's biggest stage against some of the best players that soccer has to offer.
So Revs fans, it looks like the wait for a big name player to join our club has finally expired, and in my opinion it is a perfect move. Hopefully Jones has been staying in shape during his vacation after the World Cup because there isn't much time left in the season. With a recent run of good form, the addition of Jermaine Jones could propel the Revs into a hot streak leading into the final two months of the season.