FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was an inauspicious beginning by any measure to Jermaine Jones’ home debut on Wednesday.
Nine minutes into his first foray onto the Gillette Stadium pitch, the designated player tried to guide a low and long throw-in by Matt Besler away from the net. Instead, the ball fell to the back post, where Sporting Kansas City midfielder Soony Saad raced over to bury it.
But that wouldn’t be the lasting image from Jones’ first start in a Revolution uniform. Knowing that there would be plenty of time to redeem himself, he bounced back before the close of his 45-minute stint by sending a long ball to Teal Bunbury, who then went at goal to bring the match back to level terms in the Revolution’s 3-1 victory over the second-place squad.
“I played the ball, and so I have to look, and (then) he makes the run,” Jones said. “What’s funny is that we talked yesterday and before the game, and he scores the goal after that, so everything was perfect.”
It certainly was an ideal finish to a night for a player who probably wouldn’t have started under normal circumstances.
Shortly after arriving in Foxborough last week, Jones and coach Jay Heaps sat down and adopted a step-by-step plan to getting Jones match fit following a two-month respite from game action.
The first step, of course, was getting Jones into training. With a handful of sessions under his belt prior to the club’s conference clash in Toronto, Jones made his Revolution debut as a 65th minute substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Reds.
But in the 47th minute at BMO Field, Scott Caldwell picked up his fifth caution of the season, which resulted in an automatic one-game ban. With Caldwell unavailable and Andy Dorman nursing an MCL sprain, Heaps found himself with only one option at defensive midfielder for Wednesday’s match: the hungry, but not yet completely fit Jermaine Jones.
While there would seem to be concerns about giving Jones the start on Wednesday, the Revolution head coach wasn’t worried at all about penciling in his prized midfielder for another important conference contest.
“I was excited to start him,” Heaps said. “We wanted to attack the game from the beginning and put our foot forward knowing that he was coming out at halftime, and that was the game plan. (Steve) Neumann knew that he was going in (at halftime). The entire thing was set up to get Jermaine that 45 minutes.”
Although the Revolution grabbed the go-ahead goal while Jones rested on the bench, his first-half foray at midfielder certainly made a positive impression.
“I thought he was really good,” Heaps said. “It’s a little bit different because they were pressing him, so he didn’t get a ton of the ball, but when he was able to make a play, he made the goal (basically).”
The final stats on Jones’ night aren’t eye-popping by any stretch. He completed 86 percent of his passes, intercepted a pair of his opponents’ passes and, oh yeah, uncorked a majestic 40-yard pass to Bunbury to dig the Revolution out of what could have been a demoralizing halftime deficit.
Granted, it didn’t initially appear that all would end well after Jones’ early gaffe, which led to a goal that Heaps deemed a “fluke.” But the combination of Jones’ superior skill and an impressive performance from Lee Nguyen (two goals) allowed the midfielder to laugh about his mistake after the match.
“I touched it, and the ball goes in the back, and the guy scored,” Jones said with a smile. “But I think all of (my teammates) -- we were good in shape. We came back and won the game.”