FOXBORO, Mass. – Jermaine Jones made his home debut for New England on Wednesday in the Revolution’s 3-1 win over defending MLS Champions, Sporting KC.
Jones started his first game as a member of the Revolution, playing the first half and picking up what was likely the longest-distance assist seen in Foxboro this year.
“Firstly, I want to say that I am happy,” Jones said after the game. “I was able to play again and the coach gave me 45 minutes. For a long time I thought it we played ok. The first goal – I touched it and the ball went to the back, and they scored. You can tell that our team is in good shape because we came back and won the game.”
Jones picked up his assist just before halftime. The U.S. International took possession after Darrius Barnes won an aerial duel along the left sideline just before midfield. He sent a cross to the opposite side of the field – distance of approximately 40 yards – to Teal Bunbury, who took a touch and then flicked it over defender Seth Sinovic. Bunbury went into the area and fired a shot that deflected off Matt Besler and into the back of the net.
“I thought he was really good,” head coach Jay Heaps said of his new midfielder. “It’s a little bit different because they were pressing him so he didn’t get a ton of the ball, but, when he was able to make a play he made the goal, basically, for Teal.”
It was the plan from the beginning that Jones would play just 45 minutes, though Jones admitted he asked Heaps at halftime to continue to play.
“I wasn’t concerned at all (about Jermaine),” Heaps said. “I was excited to start him. I thought that we were working on a plan here and his plan was 45 minutes tonight. The way we looked at it, working with our strength coaches was that we wanted to give him a proper warm up so he got a full warm up before the game; possession, moving the ball and so that he could go into the game and attack the game that way. We really thought that we wanted to attack the game from the beginning, put our foot forward knowing that he was coming out at halftime and it was a game plan.”
Jones was on the bench in the second half, but that doesn’t mean he was sitting. The World Cup star was into the game even from the bench and Heaps said he “lived and died every play.”
“I’ve loved [Jones] for a while in terms of how he plays, what he brings, just his competitiveness,” Heaps said. “But, until you actually get a player of that kind within your group, within what you’re trying to do, he’s such a team guy. I mean he’s literally in the locker room with the guys, in the trenches with the guys and then on the sideline tonight he lived and died every play. That’s what you love about a player like him because he brings so much to the field but, at the same time he’s showing these professionals that caring about every little play matters. And that’s what’s been really something special that we didn’t know we were going to get so much. It was more than we were expecting.”
Jones talked more about his experience in MLS so far has been much different than Europe.
“[MLS] is completely different than in Europe,” he said. “It is good for me though; it was the first time I played on turf since I was 16. I thought I played well given that it was the first time I played on turf in a while. We have a good group of guys that make me feel at home. It’s a young group and we have a lot of fun in training and after. I think you can see it on the pitch, as well. We are a good group and we can win again and go a long way.”
The Revolution are back in action again at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, when they host the Chicago Fire. Jones said he hopes he can play 90 minutes then.