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Sunday, August 24, 2014

All Aboard: Plenty of Room Left on the New England Revolution Bandwagon

One of the founding teams of MLS-the Revolution-made their biggest move in the team's up and down history tonight as they signed German-American USMNT midfielder (he's made 46 appearances for them) Jermaine Jones to a 1.5 year deal (through 2015) worth $4.7 million. He'll be introduced at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday and for what it's worth, their next match is on Saturday at Toronto (9-8-6) but who knows when he'll be available to play stateside.

I have always loved soccer because it was my best sport growing up but there a million things about it that I hate (if that makes any sense). I'm not one of those annoying soccer fans that has to make everyone around me enjoy every second of it and pretend to care about the million insignificant plays in a given contest; I completely understand why many people (mostly Americans) don't give a shit about it. There are so many issues: no scoring, faking injuries, whining to referees, etc.

I will admit though that this summer with the Bruins bowing out of the playoffs earlier than expected, the Celtics, Red Sox and Cannons (Major League Lacrosse) all going nowhere and the Patriots months away from real action, I started paying more attention to the Revolution than I had in years if ever before. After their 1-0 win over Chivas USA (6-12-6) last night at Gillette, New England improved to 9-12-3. With 30 points, they are tied with Philadelphia for the last playoff spot (Top 5 in the Eastern Conference). Both clubs have 30 points but the Revs have played one less match.

The Revs (also owned by the Krafts) are notoriously cheap (Boston Magazine had a great article about that), hence why they have mostly become irrelevant in the last few years save for last season's playoff appearance, but this is great news for their supporterse and those that casually got into the World Cup. Jones was arguably the U.S.' best field player in Brazil and he scored one of the best goals of the tournament (vs. Portugal). Ironically, they lucked out by getting him since it was the result of a blind draw between them and Chicago. Haha only MLS, have you ever heard of that before in pro sports?

Regardless of what convoluted way that he got there, this gives the Revolution and in turn MLS way more credibility in New England. Sure this would have been more powerful immediately following the World Cup but Jones has played in Germany (Schalke) and most recently Turkey (Besiktas) so he was probably looking for one last deal with a notable European club. When that didn't materialize, Major League Soccer wasn't a terrible backup option since it has accumulated more established European players and his newfound stardom with the U.S. would make him a drawing card for both his new team and the league as a whole.

He's tough and always good for a dirty challenge or two, MLS refs should buy some more cards ahead of his arrival. What's improved the last few years with the U.S. is his work-rate and also his offensive ability. Jones should make the Revolution much better overall and he could be the missing piece that puts them over the top and gets them back into the postseason. Where they go from there is anyone's best guess but for once, the Revs are relevant again in a solid soccer market that has supported them in some lean times. This is a nice reward that was long overdue by the Revolution, who had never signed a designated player.

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