The Colorado Rapids’ 2016 season ended on Sunday, a 3-1 aggregate defeat to the Seattle Sounders the final chapter for the most surprising team in the league, which means Jermaine Jones has perhaps played his final game for the club.
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Last-place finishers in the Western Conference in 2015, the Rapids acquired Jones from the New England Revolution in March, paying him a measly $650,000 for the season (down from $3 million the year before), and enjoyed the same immediate uptick in form and results as the Revs experienced upon Jones’ arrival in the summer of 2014.
When on the field (suspension, injuries and international call-ups cost him 25 games in 2016), Jones proved himself a key contributor for yet another MLS Cup contender, even as a 35-year-old. With free agency looming, Jones knows he’ll have options scattered throughout the world, but he’s hoping to remain in MLS, perhaps even in Denver — quotes from the Denver Post:
“People know that I came to this league as a (designated player) and this is where I want to go back to. I’m a free agent now. I will sit back and see what comes. I’m not scared to go back to Europe or scared to go to Mexico or somewhere.”
“This season was special. My situation was completely different before the season and I said, ‘I don’t care about money,’ and I come and I want to play and I want to show people that I can be an impact player.”
It’s hard to envision an MLS team giving Jones another DP contract in 2017, considering the salary-cap implications (the DP salary charge will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $450,000 next year), considering he only played in nine regular-season games in 2016.
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With Bruce Arena the new head coach of the U.S. national team, it remains to be seen whether or not Jones’ international career comes to an end. If Jones doesn’t figure into Arena’s plans going forward, perhaps it would behoove all parties involved for Jones to sit out the winter and spring months before signing a half-season deal, which will almost surely garner a bigger payday, in an effort to maximize his minutes and impact over a shorter period of time.
No matter what he does, or where he goes, an interesting offseason lies ahead. Jones, for one, is excited.