TORONTO, CANADA — By the time USMNT and newly-minted New England midfielder Jermaine Jones took his first in-game touch as an MLS player, the Revolution already had Saturday night’s game in Toronto well in-hand.
But ask his teammates, and Jones deserves a good deal of credit for what he brought to the team just by signing in New England earlier this week.
“He brings that intimidation factor to other teams,” said Revs leading scorer Lee Nguyen, who was electric with a goal and an assist in New England’s 3-0 win. “He’s going to get a couple games under his belt, get fit and be a big threat to the opposing team.”
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It was an ideal start for Jones and his new team, “perfect” according to the industrious midfielder.
“The last days in New England have been a lot of fun,” Jones said. “It’s a young team and I’m one of the oldest guys. Today was a perfect game… there was only one team who could win and we would show it.”
That savvy, that confidence, that swagger was present in the locker room after the game. It’s something New England can nurture after jumping back into playoff position and with games against Sporting KC and Chicago this week.
“I was happy on the bench that the boys played a good game,” Jones said. “3-0 up was easy to come in and I was happy to come back on the pitch… It’s always good to win your first game.”
Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth posted the club’s third clean sheet in its last five games, as New England made it back-to-back wins. The Buffalo-born goalkeeper made a pair of stunning saves in the second half, and lauded the way his team can use the Jones signing to take the season to its next level.
“He’s a great guy, comes in the locker room right away and it’s instantaneous respect,” Shuttleworth said. “You can tell by his professionalism in training already. It brings good attention to the team and hopefully we can use that.”
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And in an Eastern Conference that’s seen DC United surge to the top while Toronto and New York fumble to find their potential, it’s not a far cry to imagine New England ascending the standings.
“We have a group of guys and we did this last year where we had to fight for every point come the stretch and we just have to continue to put one game at a time,” said New England coach Jay Heaps.
The next one is on Wednesday, at home to Sporting KC. And it’s a doozy.