FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The media madness that engulfed Gillette Stadium earlier in the week has died down and things are starting to return to normal.
Yet, as the last training session of the week played out before the New England Revolution prepared to depart for Toronto, the interest was still sky high on Jermaine Jones, who is healthy and available for the match after his Internaional Transfer Certificate arrived earlier this week.
Although the team will not release its lineup until an hour before Saturday's game (5 pm ET, Stream of the Week, MLS LIVE), Jones' full participation in workouts, often with the first string, indicate he may have some role to play on Saturday. And Revolution coach Jay Heaps sounds impressed enough by not only Jones’ abilities on the pitch, but also off it.
“I really like the way he fits into our group,” said Heaps. “I really like the way he’s communicating already. The soccer side of it, that takes care of itself, but it’s those other things that we’re really excited about. His presence in the locker room and what he demands from the players around him.”
In last week’s match versus Chivas USA, Heaps subbed on recent signing Tony Taylor after he had only trained with the team the two days prior, so it's not a stretch to imagine that the high-profile Jones will get the opportunity to suit up and contribute despite not having played in a match since early July.
Jones' case is also helped by the case that defense-minded midfielders Andy Dorman and Shalrie Joseph will be sidelined by injury, potentially opening a spot in the 18 for the German-born US international.
“I will do everything I can to help this team,” Jones said. “I don’t know, maybe I don’t start from the beginning; maybe I’m on the bench. But I’m a guy who is always around the team. We have a young team and I think only my presence there, maybe I can push the team and we can get some points there.”
In his four workouts with the Revs, it sounds as if he has already gone a long way towards earning the trust of his coaches and teammates to step out on the field and play his game.
“What you don’t know until you get a player here is how well he adapts and reacts to the players around him,” said Heaps. “He’s so good, he makes players around him better. That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter what player it is, he’s making that player better.”
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Making the group better as a whole is tantamount to the Revolution’s success over the final ten games of the season.
Needing a solid push down the stretch, the team has already put the pomp of the week behind them, and are focused on the task at hand.
“Our focus has been Toronto,” said Heaps. “We’ve added a new player each week the last couple of weeks. Our focus is getting the player acquainted with the team, but also maintaining our major focus on our next game.”