Approximately two months after being sidelined with a bilateral sports hernia, Jermaine Jones donned a New England Revolution jersey and stepped onto the field. Although Jones only played 14 minutes, his presence was certainly felt.
Jones last played on May 31 against the LA Galaxy, a game he exited in the 35th minute after suffering a groin injury. While Jones recovered, the Revs went 2-6-1, a clear indication that the team missed their Designated Player.
Jones made the game-day 18 for last weekend’s trip to Chicago, but remained on the bench. This week he was called upon to replace Daigo Kobayashi and see out the game. Already 3-1 in favor of the Revs, Jones felt comfortable with his assignment.
"I was happy that like, you could say that the game was already finished," Jones said. "In baseball you have that guy who finishes the game. It was a great game for both teams. For me, I’m happy to be back and I had to wait a long time to come back now. Today was the day, I got to kick some balls."
Jones made the most of his brief time on the field, completing 93.8% of his 16 passes and touching the ball 20 times, more than earlier substitutes Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo. Beyond the numbers, Jones provided leadership and guidance, helping the Revs secure three points.
"He’s a big player for us," Andrew Farrell explained. "[He’s a] big presence when he comes on the field. You can tell that we feel better. He’s a big confidence-boaster for a lot of the guys. So, it’s great to have him back."
Oddly, Jones’ return is almost directly in-line with his debut in 2014. In 2014, the US international joined the Revs with ten games left in the regular season. This year Jones was reintroduced with eleven games to go. Last year, Jones’ first appearance came in a 3-0 win over Toronto. This year it’s a 3-1 victory over MLS’ first-ever Canadian team. The similarities are almost eerie.
Of course, the 2014 season ended with the Revolution challenging the Galaxy for the MLS Cup. With this in mind, Jones has no problem with the similarities continuing.
"We have a good team, I say that always but we have to believe in that," Jones continued. "Sometimes we don’t believe in that and we try to play maybe not like a team and we lose games. If we play like a team like today, what we did, there’s not a lot of teams that can beat us. I’m a part of the team and I know that I can help them to maybe come back to the MLS Cup Final."