New England Soccer Today

The Talented & Charismatic Mr. Jones

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Jermaine Jones has turned into a jack-of-all-trades player, and he’s making it look all too easy.

His performance against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night vaulted the Revolution to a 2-1 victory. In a match brimming with postseason implications, the Revolution midfielder sent a pin-point pass to Teal Bunbury on the right flank leading to Lee Nguyen’s opening score in the 19th minute while his placed header off a Chris Tierney free kick bounced into the net for the game-winner late in the second half.

It’s early, but he’s had a pivotal role in every game he’s played, and it’s one of the reasons why the Revolution are 5-0-0 when he starts, and have taken full control of second place in the Eastern Conference.

But predicting that he’d have success so early on wasn’t a sure-man’s bet. He may have the skill to manage the speed and physical play of MLS, but culture shock is another challenge altogether.

Many foreign-born players to join the Revolution have struggled on and off the field with differences between their homeland and the U.S. A new language, customs, style of play, and playing surfaces have all had their role in limiting the contributions of players from abroad. But Jones, who was born in Frankfurt, has made a seemingly easy transition.

Gillette Stadium’s turf is the first artificial surface he’s played on since his teenage years in Frankfurt. But he said he’d be able to play on it in his introductory press conference, even if it’s not ideal, and has so far lived up to his promise. The fake grass was even less than ideal on Saturday thanks to heavy rain that made the surface play even faster.

“It’s difficult,” Jones admitted. “You have to change your whole game. Sometimes you feel like you can’t take the ball easy down, sometimes it goes so fast. Yeah, it was my first time on turf raining. Now, I know how it is.”

He chuckled when asked about playing on NFL lines for the first time.

“It’s the first time—no the second, I was in training already,” he said, quickly correcting himself. “It’s a little bit confused sometimes, so you have to look where is the lines. But I can look and see what is yellow and white.”

The amount of access the American media enjoys is new to Jones, too.

In Europe, where he played the entirety of his 15-year career before he arrived in New England, reporters have zero locker room access and have to schedule interviews well in advance to speak with players. Clubs’ public relations office select a few players before the game to speak at a mixed zone after the game, during which dozens of reporters cram behind a metal barrier and ask about five questions. European journalists can only gawk at other players as they walk by—other players are not required to stop and answer questions, even if they had a profound impact on the match.

Here in the States, access is the name of the game. MLS clubs are required to open the locker room doors to the media 15 minutes after the final whistle. Win, lose or draw, players are used to having reporters hover around their lockers. Reporters can also talk to whomever they want for however long they want. To no one’s surprise, Jones has drawn a large press audience after every home game since his late-August arrival.

For many foreign stars who’ve come to MLS, such as New York’s Thierry Henry, the level of access is deemed an annoyance, and as such, media requests are often brushed aside. But Jones seems to have accepted it, having answered every question with a substantial and honest answer.

“I never really thought of it that way. I think Jermaine is worldly. His experience is across continents, across countries, he played in Turkey, he played in Germany, he played for the national team of the United States,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps in the locker room after Saturday’s game.

“For me or you, it might be difficult, but for Jermaine, he’s seamless and he’s very charismatic, so he’s able to carry that,” said Heaps. “It’s natural, it’s not put on. His ability on the field, in the locker room, in handling hard questions, is just a part of his good nature.”

Neither Heaps nor the Revolution staff has had to help him acclimate to the new environment. Rather, Jones has taken all of the changes around him in stride, according to Heaps.

The most influential Designated Players are those that can be jacks-of-all-trades on and off the field. They can perform well and be marketable and charismatic with fans and the media. But some can’t handle it. It’s not easy—even if Jermaine Jones makes it seem like it is.

“He’s had game-winning assists, game-winning goals. It not only gives us a lift on the field—that’s special, the things on the field—but what he does off the field for me is really important,” said Heaps. “He’s here early, he’s talking to the young guys, he’s watching film with us, he’s buying into everything we’re doing. When a guy with his ability and his charisma, when the [players] see that, they dig in harder.”

Julian Cardillo can be reached at Follow him on twitter @juliancardillo


  1. Hazardous Wastes

    October 7, 2014 at 9:13 am

    so glad he came and has made a difference.

  2. mary stock

    October 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

    One of the most informative articles on Jones that I’ve read. I was a little surprised to see he is an undergrad.

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