Perfect Fit: Heaps says USMNT star Jones is “exactly the player we wanted”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was a little more than two weeks ago that ESPN analyst and New England Revolution legend Taylor Twellman broke the news that the Revs were in the race to sign U.S. National Team midfielder Jermaine Jones.
But in fact, New England’s interest in Jones had been simmering long before it became public. General Manager Michael Burns revealed on Tuesday that the process was kick-started about a month ago when Jones’ representatives contacted the Revs to inform them of the player’s interest in MLS.
“I think it’s important for us to note that while we weren’t so public with our interest, both MLS and his representatives were well aware of our interest in Jermaine,” Burns said. “We kind of kept it quiet really until the end, but we always had a real strong interest in bringing Jermaine to New England.”
On Tuesday afternoon, New England’s month-long pursuit of Jones came to a happy conclusion with the 32-year-old World Cup star introduced as the Revolution’s newest Designated Player.
“We had full support from the Kraft Family to pursue [Jermaine] and we did vigorously,” said Burns. “We’re thrilled that he’s sitting here next to us.”
Jones ticks all the boxes for what the Revs have always said they’d require of a high-profile Designated Player; he’ll provide an immediate on-field boost while also raising the profile of the club within the league and region. His star turn at the World Cup – including one of the goals of the tournament in the 2-2 draw with Portugal – ensures that Jones brings with him a tremendous amount of cachet.
But it’s what Jones will provide as a player, both from a leadership standpoint and as a gritty, hard-nosed midfielder, which has head coach Jay Heaps so thrilled at his arrival.
“The minute we heard that a player of Jermaine’s caliber was out there, we jumped at the opportunity,” Heaps said. “You can’t always pick the players you want, but for our team, if you look at a spectrum of players, he was exactly the player we wanted.”
Jones hopes to step in as soon as possible to begin providing the midfield bite which New England so desperately craves, and the player himself has his eyes set on this weekend’s visit to Toronto as a potential starting point.
Fitness is a concern, of course, after Jones took an extensive layoff following his participation in the World Cup, but he looked sharp in Tuesday morning’s training session and his mere presence at Gillette Stadium provided a massive boost for the entire club.
“There’s certainly excitement. You could sense it today,” said Heaps. “I think we’ve been looking for a player like this … He fits exactly what we were looking for – a ball-winning midfielder and a great presence in there. Our philosophy stays the same and how we want to coach the team, but now we feel that we have a really big piece of the puzzle right down the spine.”