Jermaine Jones’ effect on the New England Revolution has been well documented. When the Designated Player is on the field, the team wins. When he’s not, things can be a little rocky.
With this in mind, there were some questions about how the Revs would perform with Jones away on international duty. On Saturday, it became clear that the team would be just fine.
With the exception of Daigo Kobayashi filling in for Jones, the Revs trotted out a starting lineup that mirrored recent weeks. The home side controlled the tempo in the early stages of the game, consistently threatening Tally Hall's net. In fact, the Revs had nine attempts before Diego Fagundez broke through in the 43rd minute.
The offensive barrage continued in the second half as the Revs got goals from Juan Agudelo and Chris Tierney en route to a 3-0 win. The final score was the Revolution’s largest margin of victory since their 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake in April. It also served as proof that the team can put together a full performance without Jones.
"We know that we have a strong team, not just the starting 11 and not just the 18, everyone as a group in the locker room," Fagundez said. "But you know if someone’s missing, someone’s going to step up and do their job, and that’s what you want to see."
A large part of the Revolution’s success on Saturday was the play of Kobayashi. The Japanese midfielder kept the ball moving by completing 85% of his 60 pass attempts. He was also active defensively, helping the Revs keep their third shutout in as many games.
With the Revolution looking good without Jones, granted against a battered Orlando City, there’s plenty of excitement about what the team will look like with the midfielder back in the fold. Missing Jones for a game or two is manageable, but the Revs will need him at his best for the busy final stretch of the season.
"It just shows how talented our group is and how deep we are as team," Charlie Davies said of Saturday’s result. "When [Jones] comes back, he’ll be that much more hungry and fit. So, we’re looking forward to having him back, of course."
Head coach Jay Heaps echoed Davies’ sentiments, saying that he believes Jones is at his best when playing for both club and country.
"When he goes away, he comes back even sharper and that’s what I’m excited about," Heaps said.