FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Although the first few minutes of his home debut were a little rocky, Jermaine Jones made his final minutes on the field count on Wednesday night.
When the New England Revolution's new Designated Player was unable to clear a throw-in that wound up being headed in by Sporting Kansas City striker Soony Saad for the game's opening goal, Jones was far from discouraged and eventually connected on a play he had already been working out in practice.
As the first half was winding down, Jones uncorked a long, diagonal pass from midfield deep into Kansas City territory, perfectly placing his offering at the feet of Teal Bunbury, just as they had drawn it up in training the day prior.
“We talked a lot about that play in training,” Jones told the media following the Revolution’s 3-1 win over Sporting. “I told [Bunbury] that I was going to play the ball over the top, and it was funny that it actually worked out today during the game.”
Once presented with Jones’ gift, Bunbury handled the rest, working past Seth Sinovic and firing a shot that deflected off Matt Besler and into the net, tying the game just before halftime. For Jones, it would be his last touch on the ball, despite urging coach Jay Heaps to unleash him more in the second half.
“The coach told me I was going to play 45 minutes,” said Jones. “At half, I was asking him to play more minutes, but he said that he didn’t want to take the risk. It was perfect, though, because the team came back and won the game. Now we look for the next game, and I hope that I can play 90 minutes.”
Since Jones only been back on the field for a week and half following a six-week layoff after the World Cup, Heaps' plan has been to gradually build Jones back up to full conditioning, but the coach was thrilled to be able to give the holding midfielder his first MLS start.
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“I was excited to start him,” said Heaps. “I thought that we were working on a plan here, and his plan was 45 minutes tonight.”
The Revolution have another quick turnaround, with a game against the Chicago Fire on Sunday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), and Jones is well aware of the importance of the opponent and the opportunity to grab another three points.
“It’s a special game because it was one of the teams that wanted me,” said Jones of the matchup with the Fire. “Now I am a player for New England, and I will try to win for us.”