Joevin Jones - Seattle Sounders - isolated

TUKWILA, Wash. – When Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was asked following a recent training session about the play of left back Joevin Jones, he didn’t hesitate.

“I think he's the best left back in the league,” Schmetzer said. “I think he's multi-faceted. If you think you can maybe pin him back and push guys on his side? Well, he's fast enough in transition that he will beat your guy back up the field. You can say he's a very good dribbler and you stick a guy out there and he'll find the right pass. He's got a lot of [facets] to his game.”

As the Sounders work their way through an up-and-down start to their 2017 season, Jones has been arguably the team’s most consistent player and, as Schmetzer pointed out, he has a compelling case to make for consideration as the top wide defender in all of MLS.

The 25-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international has already racked up five assists in just 810 minutes this season, a blistering pace that puts him in a tie for third in the league heading into Seattle’s road matchup with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday (9 pm ET | ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, MLS LIVE in Canada). That matchup will be a homecoming of sorts for Jones, who broke into MLS with Chicago in 2015 before the Fire traded him to Seattle before the start of last season.

“It’s nothing personal. I have nothing to prove, just to play my normal game,” Jones said of the homecoming on Thursday. “I had some great memories and some bad ones [losses] as well. But [it will be] great to see some of my ex-teammates.”

Sounders midfielder Harry Shipp was also Jones’ teammate when both played for Chicago in 2015. While Jones has largely made his mark this season due to those gaudy assist numbers and penchant for pushing into the attack, Shipp says it’s the strides Jones has taken defensively that have turned him into a more well-rounded force compared to his time with the Fire.

“I think defensively, he’s gotten a lot better, with his one-on-one defending, which has allowed him to push forward more confidently and not be so worried about the defensive side of it,” Shipp said this week. “He’s gotten so much better in the last couple years being out here, for sure.”

Added Jones: “My defending, it’s been better. You don’t see guys going past me. I’ve been defending well and attacking well.”

Jones’ progression hasn’t just turned heads around MLS. A report last month indicated he’s starting to generate interest from overseas, including clubs in Germany, Spain, Mexico and France. He’s also an integral member of the Trinidad & Tobago national team, with six goals in 54 caps since his first appearance for the Soca Warriors in 2010.

For now, however, he’s a Sounder. And as Seattle look to get their season on track against Jones’ former running mates on Saturday, the explosive fullback figures to continue to play a big part.