FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s a blueprint similar to the one that the New England Revolution unfurled last season: gain early-season success, endure long summer losing streak, get back on track, insert Jermaine Jones into the mix and see how far you can get.
After snapping a five-game losing streak last Saturday versus New York City FC, the Revs are on the verge of gaining that last piece. Jones is moving closer to a return after suffering his second sports hernia injury in less than a year during a May 31 game vs. the LA Galaxy.
“I told you already on social media, I’m ready to go and I want to help the team back to the MLS Cup Final,” Jones said in his first media appearance since his June surgery. “Today is the last day that I try to do a little bit with the ball, I try to make some runs. Today I will start to play some positions and we go from there. I’m happy to be around the guys now and I feel good.
“The pain that I got before is away. That’s the biggest part which makes me happy.”
After arriving in New England last August, Jones helped drive the Revs to their first MLS Cup Final appearance since 2007. But he had been playing with a sports hernia injury throughout, and into the US men’s national team's January camp.
He elected to have surgery in February, which kept him out for the first five matches of the season. On his return the team went 3-1-5 over nine games, with Jones playing both center back and his usual defensive midfield slot.
While coach Jay Heaps hand was forced at times to slot Jones at center back, due to defensive injuries and depth, he knows where he can do most of his damage and is looking to get him back there.
“I use him where we need to win the game,” said Heaps. “He’s shown that he can play the back, but for me ultimately I like him in the midfield. The most important thing is that we’re progressing at the right speed. Last week was getting him on the field, and working and now he’s incorporating back into the group.”
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Now that he's taking part in full training sessions, the plan is to monitor Jones throughout the week before he travels with the club to Chicago for Saturday’s match against the Fire (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), where he is not expected to play.
That could line him up perfectly for a return in New England’s next home match, which happens to be in August – the same month in which he debuted last year – and against Toronto FC, the same club he debuted against last year.
If the blueprint holds true, good things may lie ahead for the Revolution and Jones, who is very much looking forward to making up for lost time.
“I enjoyed the time with my family and my kids, but I hate to not be on the field and to play,” said Jones. “I missed the Gold Cup, I missed here some games. It’s always sad. I’m now happy to be back. It’s a little similar to last season, the same time that I come and I hope that I can have the same presence what I had last season to help the team.”