The New England Revolution signed U.S. World Cup star Jermaine Jones as much for what he will mean to the team off the field as on it.
Although the addition of the former Bundesliga midfielder could help propel the Revolution into the playoffs, the MLS team is also hoping that his star power rubs off on his new teammates. Coach Jay Heaps said after introducing Jones on Tuesday that he’s already seen some benefits.
“When he walked in the door, there was an instant respect,” Heap said. “The players are looking for leadership, and that’s what he brought.”
The Revolution missed the postseason last season and this year are in sixth place, one point out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite a post-World Cup vacation, Jones intends to be available for the Revolution game in Toronto on Saturday.
“I would be lying if I said I was 100 percent,” Jones said. “I will do everything I can do to help this team. Maybe I don’t start from beginning. Who knows, maybe I will start on bench.”
It’s unlikely that the Revolution brought Jones in as a designated player to watch him sit on the bench for long.
The son of an American serviceman and German mother, Jones played every minute of the four American games at this year’s World Cup, scoring a goal in the 2-2 draw against Portugal in the opening round. After Brazil, he took some time to consider his options.
Heap said that as soon as he heard Jones might be available, he was interested.
“We’ve been looking for a player like this,” he said. “The minute you hear that a player of Jermaine’s caliber is out there, we jumped at the opp. … He was exactly the player we wanted.”
Jones, who said he had been considering MLS even before the World Cup, made it official with the league and then waited to find out where he was assigned. To sort out competing claims by the Revolution and Chicago Fire, the league held a blind draw Sunday, and New England was chosen.
“Fortunately for us, our name came up, and we’re really excited about it,” Revolution President Brian Bilello said. “You’ve seen him at the World Cup this year. On the field we know he’s going to be tremendous for our club.”
The Revolution have long operated in the shadow of the NFL’s New England Patriots, sharing owners and a stadium but not the same record of success as the three-time Super Bowl champions. General manager Mike Burns said the signing was significant, but not a signal that the team would change its approach.
“We’ll continue to operate the way we’ve always operated,” he said.