COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids will aim to “keep fighting” when they return home to face Orlando City SC this weekend (Saturday, 9 pm ET; MLS LIVE), but will once again be without prize fighter Jermaine Jones.
The 34-year-old midfielder remains day-to-day with a sprained knee (LCL) which he originally suffered in the Rapids' 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers on July 4. He’ll be unavailable for this weekend’s match however, based on the results of a recent medical evaluation.
“It’s getting better,” Jones said of the injury. “But we talked to the doctors, the national team and the club about what we’re going to do and said ‘We need some more time.’ It will maybe be another one or two weeks.”
Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni has been adamant about allowing Jones the proper time to recover fully from the injury, but admits that his team has been missing a significant component with the US international out of the lineup.
“It’s obviously frustrating for him,” Mastroeni said. “Jermaine is still one of the elite players in this league. He had a fantastic Copa America and was a great catalyst there. He translates that to our team. It’s the intangibles: the leadership, the fight and the ability to want the ball in dangerous and difficult positions and still make a play out of it. It’s contagious.”
It’s shown in the team's results. With Jones in the lineup, Colorado have been able to take away 2.25 points per game. In the six games since he went down to injury, that average has been cut by a third, with the Rapids reaping 1.5 points per game.
“Of course it’s frustrating,” Jones said of having to watch from the sideline. “It pisses me off because I was on a good run with the team. I was ready to go and now I have to fight to get myself back.”
Perhaps most annoying for Jones was the manner in which the injury was sustained. His collision with Timbers defender Alvas Powell in the match against Portland was one Jones deemed “dirty” and “worthy of a suspension.”
“It was a corner kick,” Jones recalled. “Powell tried to control the ball and it got away. He goes in completely with two legs. One leg hit the ball and the other completely hit the inside of my knee. He knew exactly what he was doing. If it was me or [Nigel] De Jong doing that, he would have been completely suspended. That’s a dirty play and that’s it.”
While frustrating, the knee injury is far from the worst that Jones has dealt with in his career. A broken leg kept him out of the 2010 World Cup and a severe groin injury blighted his 2015 season in New England.
“I really don’t look at that,” Jones said of his past. “It’s a new chapter here and I’m happy to see that we’re making a step forward. I’m happy that the results are still coming, but I want to be on the field.”