The impending return of Jermaine Jones, who was recently upgraded to questionable on the injury report, is positive for the New England Revolution. The news does create some questions, however, so let’s see if we can formulate some answers.
When will Jones see the field?
Although Jones will travel with the team to Chicago this weekend, it’s unlikely that he’ll play. Only six weeks post-surgery, the coaching staff will want to be cautious about reintroducing the 33-year-old midfielder. If he has a good week at practice, Jones could be in line for a cameo appearance at home against Toronto FC on Aug. 1.
That said, it might be a good move to wait until the Houston Dynamo come to town on Aug. 15. With the Revs on a bye for week 23, Jones would be given plenty of time to reach full health while only missing two games.
Where does Jones play?
While he can certainly deputize along the back line, Jones belongs in the midfield. Here, he'll be able to act as the general by barking orders, making tackles, and spraying the ball. Jones will likely reunite with Scott Caldwell, relegating Andy Dorman and Daigo Kobayashi to the bench. These veterans won’t completely disappear, however, as their experience and talent will be needed from time to time.
What does Jones bring to the Revs?
Jones is an outstanding talent that will instantly improve the starting lineup. More than a hard-tackler, Jones can put the ball anywhere he wants, making the attack all the more dangerous. When on the field, he becomes a target for opponents, opening up space for players like Lee Nguyen and Teal Bunbury.
More than that, Jones is a fierce competitor who brings an infectious can-do attitude that will instantly raise spirits. When Jones is playing, there is a belief that anything can happen and that every game is winnable.
Will Jones be the captain?
I think so. While captain roulette isn’t a game you want to play, the armband belongs to Jones. As mentioned above, Jones simply brings an air of positivity with him. He’s a natural leader that will fight for his teammates. Remember, an injured Jones called the players-only meeting that helped the Revs out of their funk. Veterans like Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney, and Dorman will still have a voice in the locker room, but the armband should be with Jones.
Can Jones and the Revs replicate the magic of 2014?
The story has been told countless times: Jones joins the Revs, reinvigorates the team, and helps them to the MLS Cup final. It’s a good story (except for the ending), but it’s also one that might be difficult to reproduce.
Jones’ return will unquestionably be a boast for the Revs, but it’s going to take more than that for the club to win some hardware. Something more needs to happen, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a player acquisition. The defenders need to be stronger, midfielders more dynamic, and forwards more clinical. Someone—perhaps Diego Fagundez, Charlie Davies, or Nguyen—needs to step up and be the hero. The Revs’ squad has a lot of potential and they must now live up to it.