New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvCHI

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

After news broke on Friday that Jermaine Jones had to undergo his second sports hernia surgery in four months, it’s pretty safe to assume that he won’t be getting the three-year extension that he’s reportedly seeking. And that, in many respects, is a shame.

Both talented and charismatic, Jones has been the whole package for the Revolution since signing on the dotted line last August. His willingness to sacrifice his body and lead his team has only garnered massive amounts of respect from coaches, teammates and supporters. His engaging personality (see his unscheduled trip to the capo stand after last year’s conference final) has made him the toast of the New England soccer community.

Even though he’s set to miss another chunk of the season, the 33-year-old midfielder has been worth every penny of the $4.3 million the Revolution paid him for the 18-month contract they tendered him last summer. He has brought the sport to a different level here in the region. He isn’t David Beckham, but there’s zero debate he’s been a game-changer on many levels here.

Jones has given every indication – at least publicly – that he’d like stay with the Revolution for 2016 and beyond. He said he loves Boston, and how he’s been embraced by much of the sports community. Of course, with a wife and five young children, he understandably wants security. But as we’ve seen time after time in a number of sports, giving a long-term contracts for an athlete on the wrong side of 30 is a big risk.

We don’t know whether the Revolution front office was seriously contemplating giving Jones three years prior to his latest setback. Given how quickly Shalrie Joseph’s career flamed out after he hit 33, the front office could be forgiven for not rushing to offer Jones a deal that would pay him significant dollars at age 36.

Now that Jones will miss significant time once again, the thought of handing him a three-year deal seems like pure fantasy. And if it’s three years or nothing from Jones’ camp, then we may very well be witnessing Jones’ final act in a Revolution uniform in the fall.

Before autumn arrives, though, we have much to talk about here and now, with the official start of summer still eight days away. With that in mind, let’s dive into this week’s set of questions.

1. Will Juan Agudelo start? Agudelo only went 45 minutes before he was spelled in the second half Wednesday’s friendly against Germany, so we’ll more than likely see him on the field. It’s just a matter of how much he has in the tank. Given that he’s only played half a game over the last two weeks, one would think that he’s primed to return to the XI. But it’s not as simple as doing the math. Considering that Agudelo hasn’t trained with the Revolution over the last two weeks, cohesion could be an issue. Plus, taking the cross-Atlantic flight back home on Thursday probably didn’t do wonders for his fitness. That said, there’s no doubt that the Revolution need to come out of the gate strong. And if Jay Heaps and the training staff believes he’s got at least 45 minutes in him, we may very well see him on that pitch at the start of the game.

2. Can the Revolution shake off their milquetoast performance against the Timbers? There was not a lot that Heaps liked from Saturday’s performance. Scratch that: there was next to nothing Heaps enjoyed about it. And who could blame him? Whether it was his team’s inability to match the Timbers’ tempo, or their dreadful form in the final third, it was the kind of performance that head coach puts in the mental garbage disposal. Fortunately for the Revolution, two thing are already working in their favor even before the match starts: 1. it’s taking place at Gillette Stadium instead of Providence Park and, 2. the struggling Fire are missing three of their starters. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a walk in the park for the locals. But it does stand to reason that Saturday’s match should be an easier one to navigate.

3. If Agudelo isn’t in the XI, will Kelyn Rowe get another start? Yes, even if it is by default. While both he and Diego Fagundez have both struggled with consistency, Rowe’s saving grace has been his defense. Never one to shy away from tracking back and dishing out some punishment, the fourth-year midfielder has certainly ingratiated himself among teammates and coaches by taking his defensive duties seriously. That said, Rowe wasn’t taken fourth overall in the 2012 draft to play defense. This much we know. He has to get more involved on the advances, and cut down on the mistakes in the final third. He showed some promise in Portland last week, firing two of the team’s four shots on goal. Even so, he’ll need to build upon it and improve to make a serious run at a start spot going forward.

4. Will there be a Steve Neumann sighting? Given the state of the Revolution midfield at the moment, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to plug him in during the latter stages of Saturday’s match. Although Neumann figures to get plenty of minutes in the coming weeks with Open Cup action on tap, that alone shouldn’t preclude him from seeing the pitch against the Fire. A positionally-sound talent with attacking instincts, Neumann has already shown he can handle the late-game situation after making 20 cameos last season. And yet, he’s curiously been held out of the last seven games. After Saturday’s lackluster performance, the Revolution will need all the spark they can get on Saturday, whether it’s early or late. If Heaps needs to see more from his team late, he could do a lot worse then throwing Neumann into the mix.

5. Should Revolution supporters be concerned if the locals don’t get a win? The answer this one is a hard “yes.” The Fire are one of the worst teams in the league, and are missing three starters. On paper, this game is exactly what the Revolution need to snap their six-game winless streak. The locals are at home, nearly at full strength, and are pitted against a struggling opponent. The only thing that could make this easier – besides the miraculous healing of Jones’ sports hernia – is if the Fire’s goal was widened by five meters. In other words, this game is an absolute sitter for the Revolution. All they have to do is their jobs. Pure and simple. And if they don’t? Well, between the news of Jones’ injury news and an unforgiving schedule through July, it might be another long and trying summer for everyone involved.

What other questions surround the Revolution going into Saturday’s match? Tell us in the comments section!

One Comment

  1. RISAPres

    June 13, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    The failure to resign Jones is likely to have more impact than meets the eye. His presence has turned a coaching staff that many considered suspect to one with the cache necessary to demand excellence on the pitch. Actually the demands for excellence are more as a result of the leadership of JJ than any actual change or growth by the Revs staff. The failure to resign Jones will be easy to measure in the table in 2016 if it should be the result of a tight fisted management.

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