After undergoing two sports hernia surgeries this season, it’s natural to wonder about Jermaine Jones’ health ahead of the MLS playoffs. The 33-year-old defensive midfielder has logged a lot of minutes for club and country since returning to the field in early August. Although he’s willing to admit that he’s not quite at full fitness, Jones is focused on getting back to the MLS Cup Final.
"It’s almost there," Jones told media about his fitness level on Tuesday. "In New York I feel really good but Jay [Heaps] took me off for the game [Wednesday]. I’m almost there."
While the player stopped short of saying he’s back to his former self, his coach was more optimistic. Heaps noted that the 629 minutes that Jones contributed in the late stages of the season serve as proof that the Designated Player is ready for the postseason.
"I think he’s there," Heaps said. "I thought last game he was excellent. Not only was he defending and breaking up plays, he was also spearheading some of our attacks. When Jermaine’s really feeling good about his game and about his fitness and where we are as a group, he’s a true number eight."
If the New England Revolution are going to make another run at the MLS Cup this year, they will need Jones to be present in all areas the pitch, including the attacking third.
In 2014, Jones scored two goals and added four assists in ten regular season appearance. The US international offered one goal and two assists in the postseason. This year, Jones hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet once despite making 18 appearances.
If there’s ever a time for Jones to step up, it’s the MLS playoffs. Wednesday’s knockout game against DC United, a situation that Jones is sure to relish, is a perfect opportunity for Jones to make his mark, regardless of his fitness status.
"You don’t have to be really 100% in playoff games," Jones commented. "It’s a game and sometimes you’re tired but your legs can run if you can take it out of your head. I try to enjoy it. I say from the beginning of the season, that I want to get back to the Cup Final."