FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jermaine Jones eased his way back onto the field with a late cameo in the New England Revolution’s last match, a comfortable 3-1 victory over Toronto FC. The next step, of course, is to continue increasing his participation as he works his way back from a two-month injury layoff.
While head coach Jay Heaps said the Revs will evaluate Jones throughout the week to determine whether he’s “90 minutes fit or 60 minutes fit or 30 minutes fit,” the player himself has a pretty good idea how long he’ll be able to participate on Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo.
“Of course I’ll try to get the most time I can, but I think [around] 60 minutes or something like that will be the right decision right now,” Jones said on Tuesday morning. “We’ll see how the week goes.”
Jones played 14 minutes against TFC in his first appearance since May 31, when he suffered the injury which required bilateral sports hernia surgery. He completed 18 of 20 passes despite limited minutes, including a string of impressive cross-field passes from right to left.
The win improved New England’s record to 4-1-5 when Jones appears this season. The Revs have gone 4-8-2 in the 14 games Jones has missed, including five at the beginning of the season.
“First and foremost, he does make us a better team,” said Heaps. “When he’s on the field, the guys around him really feel stronger with his presence. I think that’s step one.
“Now, can we get him back to the level he was at last year and at the beginning of this year before the injury? He’s been there in training and he was there the other night in the game.
“But that was limited minutes, so we’ll see as the weeks progress how many more minutes he gets and how much better he makes us.”
Jones benefitted from the timing of the bye week, which offered New England the chance to increase his workload last week – and up his fitness – without having to worry about saving his legs for a game.
But ultimately Jones is going to need more games to regain full sharpness and rhythm. He’ll get that opportunity on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, but to what extent remains to be seen.
“Now it’s important to get back on the field,” said Jones. “This is the last part where you can get all the fitness back. You can do outside running, but it’s always different in a game.
“Now the games come. We don’t have many left, and I want to be on the field as soon as possible.”