The Colorado Rapids may have their most dangerous weapon back just in time for the postseason.
After more than three months on the sidelines, Jermaine Jones is finally ready to return to the pitch, having revealed his availability for Sunday's Decision Day match vs. the Houston Dynamo – and the untold seriousness of his lingering knee injury – this week.
“Getting Jermaine back at this time is not only good because he’s a great player and he’s a great leader, but how his energy and competitiveness is exuded throughout the group and the psychological effect it has on our opponents,” said Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni. “Now he becomes a topic of conversation for our opponents that we haven’t had in a while.”
Jones told the Denver Post that the sprained lateral collateral ligament he sustained in a 0-0 draw vs. Portland on July 4 was no ordinary sprain. In fact, the ligament, which runs along the outside of the knee joint from the bottom of the femur to the top of the fibula, was almost completely detached.
“This is why it took so long,” said the charismatic veteran. “We were trying to keep it [quiet]. But it was a bad injury and I was lucky. The doctor told me if it was ripped from the bone [completely] I would be out 6-8 months. It’s 14 weeks, I think.”
That firsthand explanation would appear to cap months of uncertainty and confusion about Jones' status. For weeks he was described as “day to day” and in August he said it would be “another one or two weeks” before he was back in action. Jurgen Klinsmann called him in to the US national team's camp at the end of that month for evaluation, but Jones returned to Colorado without taking part in either of the USMNT's World Cup qualifiers during that international window.
But Jones is in the mix for minutes vs. Houston, a game the Rapids want to win in order to claim the Supporters' Shield (and also the Western Conference's top playoff seed) should FC Dallas lose at LA. The all-action midfielder may well provide Colorado with a timely boost as they hunt a deep run in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The 34-year-old also confessed that he's motivated by the fact that he lost his Designated Player status upon his departure from the New England Revolution last winter.
“It’s so far a good season, and now I see [the injury] from a different way,” Jones told the Post. “I say, ‘Colorado gets a new player for the playoffs.’ I try to give my impact to the team what I showed already, I try to score goals and hope that we can say, at the end of the season, that we are champions.
“I will show everybody that my quality is a DP player. Put money aside, I know for the last two years [the Rapids] don’t make the playoffs, let’s change that and let me bring my impact to this team. Colorado can be a championship team and maybe win something.”