Like it has many times before, the unpredictable weather affected a game at Gillette Stadium. On a clear, sunny day, the wind dominated the New England Revolution soccer team’s post-game press conference. Coach Jay Heaps acknowledged that the wind made playing the game “very difficult.” As a result, neither the defending Eastern Conference Champions nor the Columbus Crew could do anything to separate themselves and the game ended 0-0.
The biggest storyline, however, was the season debut of Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones. The German-American underwent surgery in early February to fix a sports hernia. Jones, acquired last summer will again have an important role with the club. After signing the 33-year old Jones in late August of 2014, the Revolution won eight out of their remaining ten regular season games. In the playoffs, the Revs beat both the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls before once again falling to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the final.
The question now is can the Revs take the next step and finally win an MLS Cup? For many analysts and fans, the answer is yes. Led by U.S. international Jermaine Jones, the Revolution sport one of the best if not the best midfield in the MLS. Jones is accompanied by Lee Nguyen, the diminutive playmaker who finished third in MVP voting last season, Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman. They return forwards Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury and reacquired Juan Agudelo this winter. Together, this trio will wear down defenses with pace, strength and technique. Each one of them is capable of scoring in bunches and provides a different look going forward. Youngsters Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe will continue to do what they do best: create and score, terrorizing opponents in the process. Following the theme, the Revs return essentially the same defense, led by Portuguese captain Jose Goncalves.
Although the whole team is solid, Jones stands out as the biggest difference maker. His teammates were relieved to see him back on the pitch, to say the least.
“He’s the type of player that just his presence in the midfield is tough for the opponents to deal with. It gives you a lot of confidence,” said Agudelo. Lee Nguyen echoed this sentiment, praising Jones’ leadership and presence.
As a testament to the quality of the team, both Agudelo and Nguyen were called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team for its friendly versus Mexico. Both are eager and excited to rejoin the squad, but have faced different challenges in joining the USMNT. For the 22 year old Agudelo it is all about playing time. Leading to his call up, Agudelo said he “Focus[ed] on performing well and playing every weekend and starting. Getting a lot of touches in games and doing everything I can to help out the team.” On the other end of the spectrum, Nguyen knew he was just “trying to be consistent.” Jones did not make the 22-man roster as he just returned from injury.
This Revolution team will be exciting to watch. Coach Jay Heaps has them playing an energetic, creative style that scores goals and feeds on the strengths of the team.
Look for the Revs to make that next step and finally win an MLS Cup.