With two weeks before MLS is scheduled to begin play, there are two notable absences from the New England Revolution’s training camp as Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen are recovering from preseason procedures. Both operations were preventative in nature and the players are improving every day.
"Jermaine is progressing well after having his surgery and we’re updated daily on him," head coach Jay Heaps commented. "Lee is the same thing. He had a procedure, his was more preventative as well, and he’s progressing well."
Both Jones and Nguyen were important contributors for the Revolution in 2014. After acquiring Jones in August, the Revs went 11-2-2 when the veteran saw the field. In the same vein, Nguyen was a league MVP candidate after tallying 18 regular season goals, the most of any pure midfielder in MLS history.
While it’s not ideal for Jones and Nguyen to be sidelined during preseason, Heaps believes that having the surgeries done now will be beneficial in the long run.
"The injuries were exacerbated," Heaps explained. "We felt that taking care of them now was going to be better than getting into the season and having to try to either manage it or, worst case scenario, have to shut them down for the full time during the season."
Heaps stopped short of putting a timetable on either player, saying that it’s crucial that Jones and Nguyen are given enough time to fully heal. There’s no need to risk injury by rushing them back.
The absences of Jones and Nguyen, who were both scheduled to take a week off after being with the US Men’s National Team, will allow other players to make their claim for a starting spot. Kelyn Rowe, Daigo Kobayashi, and Andy Dorman are all capable of controlling the midfield. Another candidate is Diego Fagundez.
Fagundez, who recently returned from international duty with the Uruguay U-20s, operated centrally in Wednesday’s Desert Diamond Cup opener against Real Salt Lake. It’s not an unfamiliar position for Fagundez, as the 20-year-old saw time there while with Uruguay.
"It’s a position that I think that Diego is instinctive at," Heaps said. "I thought he was really good the other night."
Heaps is confident that Jones and Nguyen will provide a "boost" when they return. In the interim, it’s business as usual for the Revs.
"I think our guys are really slotting in and we’re working hard," Heaps stated. "It’s like any injury. When the players aren’t there, you have to proceed forward and the players that are healthy play. I think that’s benefiting a lot of guys."