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On Tuesday the New England Revolution announced the acquisition of 32-year-old midfielder Jermaine Jones, who was last seen starring for the U.S. national team in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.
A ‘Ball-Winning Midfielder’
Though he was born in Germany, Jones was available to the U.S. national team because his father was an American and Jones had never played in a competitive match for the German national team. He was available to the Revolution because 15 years into his career, Jones and his agent figured MLS would be a good — and relatively lucrative — fit.
At his press conference in Foxborough Tuesday, Jones acknowledged that he’d been on vacation with his family since the U.S. was bounced out of the World Cup in Brazil but promised to be ready to play as soon as Saturday.
“I am happy to be here,” he said. “It was like a long holiday now for me, and I’m really happy that I can start to go back on the pitch. I’m ready to go and I hope that coach will push me and push me that I’ll be ready for the game in Toronto.”
Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said that as a “ball-winning midfielder,” Jones was exactly the player his team needed.
In the past, MLS has been regarded as a soft, late-career landing for some players who’ve starred in more celebrated leagues, but Heaps feels Jones’ veteran status will work to the advantage of his new team.
“When he walked in the door today, there’s an instant respect," he said. "Last game we averaged an age of 23 years of age that started the game — when you average out the ages across the board — and so instantly they’re looking for someone to lead, and I think today he walked in and that was exactly what the players felt around him.”
A ‘Signature Signing’
The signing of Jones was preceded by all sorts of rumors: he preferred to play for the Chicago Fire; he was going to return to Europe; some country somewhere else might be in the mix.
When asked about all that, Jones denied everything, shrugged, and said that everyone should remember he’d been on vacation with his family, and he’d let his agent sort out the opportunities.
“If you go too much in that, it will make your head crazy,” he said.
Certainly. And who needs a crazy head?
It has been reported that Jones will be paid $4.7 million for the remainder of this season and the next. This would seem to be a significant departure from the economic plan that has characterized the New England Revolution, which, unlike the Los Angeles Galaxy or the New York Red Bulls, has never been much interested in pursuing the so-called “designated players” for a lot more money than the rest of the roster costs.
Revolution general manager Mike Burns said that Jones should be considered an exception.
“This certainly signifies a signature signing for us,” Burns said. “But we’ll continue to operate the way we’ve always operated, and, in terms of saying this is a change and that we’re going to go down this path and sign two or three designated players, I don’t think will be the case.”
With just 10 games left to play in the regular season, the Revolution sits on the brink of playoff qualification. With the signing of Jones, Burns and Heaps feel they’ve greatly enhanced the possibility that the Revs will be playing soccer into November.
This story aired on August 27, 2014.
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