The international partnership is the first of its kind in Revolution history and is expected to result in shared expertise and promotion for both clubs.
"We're very excited to partner with a club with such history and prestige as Sporting Clube De Portugal," Revolution president Brian Bilello said in a team release on Wednesday. "The opportunity to not only partner on activities to improve our first team, but also to work with their prestigious academy on youth development, will benefit our club for many years. We will also assist Sporting in their efforts to explore opportunities to increase Sporting's reach within the United States, both on and off the field."
The partnership will allow the Revolution to bring in players from Sporting on loan, as well as giving both sides the opportunity to share scouting resources. According to the Revolution, the primary focus of the partnership is to promote collaboration on training and development methods for both clubs' first teams and youth squads.
The potential benefits for the Revolution are clear. The Portuguese club's academy has fostered the development of such stars as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Nani. The partnership should enhance the Revolution's own youth academy, which has already received its fair share of national accolades in recent years.
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In the 56th minute of a game in which the Revolution held a precarious one-goal lead, the veteran midfielder watched as Graham Zusi of Sporting K.C. flew past him to set up the sequence in which Dom Dwyer scored the equalizer.
But Jones was determined to make amends, which is exactly what he did nearly 30 minutes later by banging home a long-distance winner to give the Revolution a thrilling 3-2 victory on Friday.
“Jermaine had to gut it out,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told the media following the match. “He doesn’t fully have the fitness, but I thought his performance was spot on and his goal was much deserved.”
Fitness was certainly a concern for Jones going into Friday’s contest. Thirteen days earlier, he suffered a left leg contusion that forced him to make an early exit from the Revolution’s 2-1 win over Montreal.
The injury forced Jones to miss training sessions, and it also limited him to 45 minutes in last week’s 1-0 loss in Columbus. In many respects, the idea of Jones going beyond the hour mark on Friday would be a big thing to ask for from a two-way player.
But Jones has never been one to take the easy way out. And that was especially evident on Friday, with Jones knowing his failure to disrupt Zusi on the goal sequence may have cost the Revolution a pair of crucial points.
“I was a little bit upset,” Jones told the media after the match. “I think it was my mistake. After that goal, I said I have to step up and help the team come back and take a point or maybe a win.”
It was clear that Jones wouldn’t be content with simply securing the draw. In the 85th minute, Lee Nguyen advanced it toward the final third. To his right, Jones gingerly kept pace and received a pass from Nguyen.
With no one contesting him for the ball, a visibly tired Jones took two touches and hit it with all he could. It was a hopeful shot by any standard. And it just so happened to squeeze between the reach of Eric Kronberg and the right post. Redemption.
“I scored at the World Cup a similar goal so I try to shoot when I have the chance,” Jones said, referring to the long-distance blast he scored against Portugal in the group stages. “I saw that the corner was free, so I tried it.”
Of course, no one was surprised to see the star midfielder give it a go in such a crucial spot. If anything, the only startling aspect of Jones’ game-winner was that the Sporting Kansas City defense gave him so much room to take it.
“I’ve seen him shoot those before,” Heaps said. “If you give him a little bit of space, he’s going to rocket it. I was just happy he got his first goal here, a game winner, in a tight game with huge playoff implications. It’s huge.”
Jones, who scored his first MLS goal in the 85th minute on a low drive from 30 yards, tipped the scales back in the Revolution's favor after Sporting Kansas City secured a pair of unanswered goals from Paolo Nagamura and Dom Dwyer in the 54th and 56th minute, respectively. The Revolution built a two-goal lead at the break after Kelyn Rowe opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, and Jose Goncalves added another in the 35th minute.
With the win, the Revolution overtook Sporting Kansas City for second place in the conference by holding the tiebreaker (total wins). The loss marked Sporting's third straight loss at home in league play.
What it means: It might have been a wild and at times sloppy affair for the Revolution, but nevertheless, they did what good teams do: capitalize on their chances and overcome their mistakes. First-half goals from Rowe and Goncalves showed that the Revolution weren't about to be gun-shy at a place where they hadn't yet tasted victory. But even after their defense was riddled for two goals in quick succession and looked vulnerable for stretches during the second half, the guests refused to back down. As a result, Jones was able to take center stage and score the decider late to give the Revs a bona fide statement victory at a place they'd never won, at a crucial point down the stretch.
Stat of the match: Rowe's goal was the first Revolution goal at Sporting Park in regular-season play since Rajko Lekic scored in the 38th minute of a 1-1 draw back on July 30, 2011.
Bunbury's back: Midfielder Teal Bunbury was back on the field after sitting out last week's match due to suspension. For the fifth-year veteran, Saturday's match had special meaning, as it marked his first game at Sporting Park since he was traded from Sporting Kansas City to the Revolution back in March. Bunbury spent the first four years of his career with Sporting, where he played in 89 games and scored 19 goals from 2010 to 2013.
Soares' absence forces defensive overhaul: With center back AJ Soares out due to a calf injury, Revolution coach Jay Heaps had no choice but to employ a revamped backline. While Goncalves remained as the left side center back, right back Andrew Farrell took over Soares' spot, while Kevin Alston assumed Farrell's role on the right. Out on the left, Chris Tierney earned his first start since late July, taking over for Darrius Barnes, who entered the game late for Rowe.
Sporting Park jinx no more: Friday's win snapped a five-game winless streak (0-3-2), including the postseason, for the Revolution at Sporting Park. In fact, the last time the locals beat Kansas City on the road was back on April 9, 2008.
Back to Foxborough: The Revolution will return to Gillette Stadium on Oct. 4 to host the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The conference clash comes only two weeks after the Crew claimed a 1-0 win over the Revolution, who saw their six-game unbeaten streak snapped in the process.
The third-place Revolution enter the match coming off a 1-0 loss to the Crew, who used a 48th-minute free kick blast from Federico Higuain to secure the victory last Saturday. The narrow defeat marked the first time the Revolution found themselves in the loss column since Aug. 2 after stringing together a six-game unbeaten run (5-0-1).
Another team familiar with streaks -- albeit of the opposite variety in recent weeks -- is none other than Sporting, who sit three points above the Revolution in the standings. A late-summer swoon saw the defending champions drop four straight, including a 3-1 loss to the Revolution earlier this month. But a 4-0 win over Chivas USA, along with a 3-0 win over Real Esteli in CONCACAF Champions League play, may signal that Peter Vermes' side has shaken off its struggles.
Friday's match will mark the third and final installment of the conference foes' regular-season series. The Revolution won the first two meetings, but have never won at Sporting Park since it opened its doors in 2011.
Here's what to watch for during Friday's high-stakes affair:
• Different Sporting K.C. team on tap for Revolution. Earlier this month, the Revolution welcomed a depleted K.C. side to Gillette Stadium and promptly staked a 3-1 win. Without having to worry about Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber -- both of whom were forced to sit out due to suspension -- the Revolution rolled after an early defensive hiccup. It was an encouraging performance, by any measure. Just don't expect the success to come as easily with Dwyer and Feilhaber at the ready this time around.
"From a personnel standpoint, they're different," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. "But they're a system team and they play well in that system, and when you add their full roster of players, they're really dangerous."
• How long can Jermaine Jones go? That's the question at the front of many supporters' minds going into a crucial, late-season conference clash. Last week, Jones, who was bothered by a left leg injury, was only healthy enough to go 45 minutes against the Crew. But with Jones off the injury report going into Friday's match, it appears the veteran midfielder is ready to return to the lineup -- and not a moment too soon with the enterprising K.C. on tap. With much of the burden of keeping Sporting K.C. at bay on Friday, expect Jones to push himself to go beyond the 60-minute mark.
• Plenty of high-pressure on tap. Don't count on K.C. to reprise the foul-first, ask-questions-later approach from their first two meetings against the Revolution on Friday. While Vermes' squad may lead the league in fouls, Sporting is a much more fluid side at home. With one of the most vocal and passionate fan bases behind them, K.C. sends waves of attacks crashing into their opponents' territory. And it's something that former Sporting K.C. and current Revolution midfielder Teal Bunbury is fully expecting to see on Friday.
"They try to press from the get-go," Bunbury said. "Within the first 10-15 minutes they're down your throat, and trying to win everything. So that's going to be the big change [from the last meeting on Sept. 3]."
• Can the Revolution shake the Sporting Park jinx? The Revolution are far from the only club that has encountered failure at Sporting Park. Since their first visit in 2011, the locals have gone 0-3-2, with their most recent defeat coming in the second leg of last year's conference semifinal. Even so, Sporting has shown that they are far from invincible at their home park this year. Sure, a draw wouldn't be the worst result in the face of a strong opponent. But with K.C's record of 5-3-6 at home, including back-to-back losses to D.C. and Houston, the time may be ripe for the Revolution to clinch their first win at Sporting Park.
• Are the Revolution on the verge of another slide? The last time the Revolution had a lengthy unbeaten run snapped, many remember that an eight-game losing streak immediately followed. So the concerns and worries about the possibility of another deep valley ahead aren't completely unfounded. But one player who isn't thinking about streaks -- negative or otherwise -- is defender Andrew Farrell.
"The coaches have done a great job making us just take one game at a time, and know that every game is like a final," Farrell told the media on Thursday. "We've got to make sure that every game, we get the most points that we can, and then the rest will take care of itself."
Jones came on in the second half of Saturday's game hoping to unlock a scoreless game. But knowing the midfielder's reputation for having a short temper, the Crew didn't bypass an opportunity to provoke a reaction from him -- something even more evident to Heaps after watching the game film.
"I feel this, and I see it on tape, because I watched a lot of film," Heaps said. "They're trying to be aggressive on him and they're trying to instigate him."
The game stats show that Jones was fouled only one time in 45 minutes of action. But that didn't stop him from appealing to the officials for other slights, unseen or otherwise. And, according to Heaps, it wasn't just because the Crew were trying to get him booked, either.
"Make no mistake; they knew he was carrying a foot injury and they tried to kick it," Heaps said. "So, for me, the problem in that situation is the referees have to manage it a little bit better."
Dorman nearing return
While Jones has certainly gotten plenty of press since his arrival in late August, one player who's quietly working his way back into the fold is veteran midfielder Andy Dorman.
Dorman suffered an MCL sprain during a July 12 contest against Chicago, forcing him to miss the team's last 12 games. As anxious as he is to return, Dorman admitted he doesn't have a specific target for his return.
"I'm not too sure at the moment," Dorman said. "I'm just being sensible at the moment, and kind of let my body determine that."
Dorman recently became a full participant in passing and possession drills, but admitted that he's still in the process of regaining the strength in his legs and regaining his fitness.
The recovery process hasn't been easy, by any means. Dorman said that after the initial pain of the injury subsided, the toughest part was watching the games on Saturdays knowing he wouldn't be involved.
Not surprisingly, Dorman, who started in 15 of the team's first 17 games prior to his injury, is anxious to be back on the field, even if he doesn't quite know when that will happen.
"I think initially, when you get told it's going to be 10-12 weeks, it doesn't seem too, too bad," Dorman said. "But's it's dragged on a long time. Full credit to the guys in the treatment room; they've been brilliant."
Homecoming for Bunbury on tap
Midfielder Teal Bunbury has faced his former Sporting Kansas City teammates twice already this season, but Friday's match will be the first time he'll step onto the pitch at Sporting Park as a visitor.
Bunbury spent the first four years (2010-13) of his pro career in Kansas City, where he quickly became a fan favorite. As such, the Revolution midfielder said that it won't be just another road game for him.
"There'll be more emotion, definitely," Bunbury said. "I have family there, and the fans and the atmosphere was great and they always treated me well. I loved playing in that stadium.
"Obviously, it's a little different now, but I'm going to go out there to do anything I can to help my team win."
After staying unbeaten in their previous six matches, the Revolution were handed a crushing 1-0 loss by an enterprising Crew side that used a Federico Higuain free-kick goal to tip the scales in their favor.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Charlie Davies said. “We wanted to come here and get a result. Columbus played like they wanted it more; they had more energy than us.”
The Crew certainly displayed the tenacity of a team that wouldn’t be denied, especially in the early going. With the Revolution sitting back, hoping to catch the Crew on the counter, Higuain and his teammates found plenty of room to operate the offense.
In the 30th minute, Tony Tchani used the space afforded to him to find Eric Gehrig inside the area, where the Columbus forward made a strong bid for the opener that was pushed away by a diving Bobby Shuttleworth.
Gehrig came close again not long after. Higuain sent a cross for Gehrig, who slammed his header off the post in the 37th minute, as the Revolution were able to survive the first half unscathed.
“We didn’t have the best of first halves,” Davies said, “but we were able to keep it even and go into half even.”
It didn’t stay even for long in the second half, though. After Darrius Barnes fouled Ethan Finlay just yards before the box, Higuain blasted a 30-yard shot that found the back of the net to put the Crew ahead.
Making matters worse: Revolution coach Jay Heaps had preached the importance of not giving into the temptation of fouling near the area, where Higuain made a number of teams pay with his world-class free kicks.
“We talked about giving one up this morning,” Heaps said, “and we did that.”
Although the message may not have gotten through to his team, the Revolution were far from done. After all, they’d been in this position in each of their last three games. And on all three occasions, they bounced back to beat their opponent.
But there was no comeback in store for the Revolution on Saturday. Davies, Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney all tested Steve Clark, and all were denied as the guests’ six-game unbeaten streak came to a crashing halt
After the match, Davies said he was encouraged by the way the team played in the second half. However, he was quick to note that they’ll have to put it together for the entire 90 against second-place Sporting Kansas City on Friday.
“We’ve just got to watch this game over, see where we made the mistakes and get ready for Kansas City,” Davies said, “because in reality, that is the big one for us. We’ve got to put this one behind us and move on and really step it up for Kansas City.”
Higuain scored for the second time this season on a free kick from about 25 yards in the 48th minute against the Revolution. The Argentinian midfielder had a chance to add another in the 85th minute from the penalty spot, but he was denied by goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
With the loss, the Revolution fell back to the .500 mark (13-13-3, 42 points), and suffered their first defeat since Aug. 2. Conversely, the win for the Crew allowed them to climb over the .500 mark (10-9-10, 40 points) and extended their unbeaten run to three.
What it means: Everyone in the Revolution locker room knew about the danger Higuain posed on set pieces. Even though coach Jay Heaps spoke to how his team couldn't afford to foul the Crew near the area, that's precisely what happened before Higuain blasted the game-winner into the back of the net. Although the Revolution have shown the ability to survive mistakes at home, Saturday's match showed just how difficult it is overcome them on the road. With three of their final five away from Gillette Stadium, it'll be up to Jay Heaps to get his team to cut down on those mistakes as the postseason hunt heats up.
Stat of the match: Kelyn Rowe, who was a sparkplug for the Revolution in their six-game win streak, completed only 50 percent of his passes, the lowest percentage among those who went the full 90 for the locals.
Scoreboard watch: The Revolution remain in third place with 42 points, but the fourth-place Red Bulls (41 points) climbed within one point of the locals. The fifth-place Crew (40 points) inched within two points of the Revolution.
Injured Jones suits up, comes on at halftime: A week after a left leg injury ended his night prematurely against the Impact, Jermaine Jones was back on the pitch Saturday. Although he was held out of the lineup, he was called upon to enter the game at the start of the second half. He completed 78 percent of his passes during his 45 minutes on the pitch.
Bunbury misses first game of season due to suspension: For the first time all season, right midfielder Teal Bunbury did not see the pitch, as he served his one-game ban for yellow card accumulation. Bunbury, who had played in all 28 games prior to Saturday's contest, was issued his fifth yellow card of the season in the 48th minute of the past Saturday's clash against the Impact.
Lineup changes: With Jones nursing an injury and Bunbury banned, Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez returned to the XI. Caldwell claimed Jones' spot in the central midfield while Fagundez manned Bunbury's position out on the right.
Tierney back in action: After missing the past eight games due to a knee injury, left back Chris Tierney returned to the pitch when he entered the game in the 56th minute for Darrius Barnes. The veteran defender went 34 minutes and launched a last-gasp free kick in stoppage time that was denied by Steve Clark.
Friday night lights on tap: The Revolution will remain on the road for a rare Friday night matchup against second-place Sporting Kansas City next week at Sporting Park. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. ET. The Revolution will have the chance to sweep Sporting after beating them twice (2-0 on April 26 and 3-1 on Sept. 3) this season.
The Revolution, who ride into Columbus unbeaten in their past six (5-0-1), will attempt to channel more of the same form that has allowed them to climb the standings since Labor Day Weekend. Their most recent showcase of success came in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact, a game in which Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen led the way to give the Revolution their third straight comeback victory.
While the Revolution might be one of the hottest teams in MLS at the moment, the Crew aren't exactly slouches themselves. Not only have they gotten results in four of their past five, they showed last week that they won't go quietly when tested. After falling into a two-goal deficit to Houston before the break, Columbus stormed back with a pair of their own to claim a 2-2 draw and seize an important road point at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Of course, the Revolution know the danger the Crew pose firsthand. On July 26, the Crew scored early and late to secure a 2-1 win over the local XI at Gillette Stadium.
Here's what to watch for with both sides hoping to bolster their playoff chances:
• Beware of fouling around the box. If the Revolution have learned anything from their recent encounters with the Crew, it's that they cannot be brazen in their challenges around the 18. Not when Federico Higuain is on the field, at least. The Argentinian midfielder has blasted a trio of free-kick goals against the Revolution over the past two years, the most recent coming in a 2-1 Columbus win on July 26. While Higuain is certainly as much a threat from the run of play as he is on set pieces, the Revolution know they'll be inviting danger if they're not disciplined in their own defensive third.
"We definitely have to be cognizant of that," Revolution defender Darrius Barnes said. "He's a class player; he's an artist when it comes to free kicks, and so part of our tactical approach is going to be not foul near the box, and limit their chances, and free kicks are kind of what they prey on a bit, so hopefully we can limit those chances and keep them off the board."
• Will Jermaine Jones play? Concerns about Jones' availability for Saturday's match immediately sprung up when a left foot injury cut his night short against Montreal last weekend. So it was somewhat of a relief for Revolution fans that he was listed as "questionable" rather than "out" on Thursday's injury report. Even so, expect the coaching staff to be cautious in their approach to Jones' return. With Scott Caldwell showing himself capable in the midfield during the Revolution's unbeaten run, the best course of action might be to keep Jones in reserve until next week's road tilt in Houston.
• Can the Revolution avoid conceding another early lead? For all the success the Revolution have seen since late August, their Achilles' heel has been gifting the opening goal to their adversaries. In each of their past three, defensive mistakes have put the Revolution into an early deficit. While they've been strong enough to overcome those errors, mounting a comeback against the stingy Crew at their home stadium isn't the kind of challenge they'll want to saddle themselves with. With that in mind, center back AJ Soares believes that the key to avoiding another deficit is simple.
"I think our approach has been good," Soares said. "It's just little mistakes here and there, and if we just cut those out, we'll be fine."
• Will Lee Nguyen find the score sheet again? Nguyen's recent run of success has been well-documented during the Revolution's unbeaten streak, and with good reason. Not only has he scored or assisted in each of the team's five straight wins, but he's racked up four game-winning goals over the course of that stretch. Clearly, the success of the Revolution has rested on the shoulders of their dynamic midfielder. But with the Crew likely to key in on Nguyen, especially if Jones is unable to play, someone else may have to play the role of hero for the Revolution.
• How can the Revolution continue their success on the road? While the Revolution offense has gotten plenty of press during their six-game unbeaten run, it'll likely be the defense's job to keep the streak intact at Crew Stadium. Granted, Columbus isn't known for its offense. But players like Higuain, Wil Trapp and Ethan Finlay are all capable of capitalizing on defensive mistakes, as evidenced by last week's 2-2 comeback draw against Houston. Therefore, expect the Revolution to drop back and rely on the counterattack rather than trying to play a possession-friendly brand of soccer.
"It's going to be a battle, it's going to be a fight," Rowe said. "They're fighting as much as we are to keep the spot."
Of course, it helps that the Revolution have bounced back from the early deficits and won each of those three games. Nevertheless, Heaps admitted that, on the whole, he’s liked what he’s seen from his squad.
“The starts have actually been really bright,” Heaps said. “It’s been a mistake here or a mistake there; it hasn’t really been a team breaking us down or us not moving the ball well.”
A look at the tape -- and the stats -- seems to suggest the same. Two weeks ago against Sporting Kansas City, a poor header from Jermaine Jones essentially fell into the lap of Soony Saad, who scored the opener. Days later, it was Sanna Nyassi unmarked at the far post, where he too put the Revolution in an early deficit. Then, on Saturday, Andrew Farrell slipped while trying to contain Jack McInerney, who slipped an easy assist for Calum Mallace in the 13th minute. Three gaffes, three goals, three deficits.
To further bolster the coach’s point: The Revolution held the better of possession leading up to those early strikes two out of three times, with the early goal allowed to Sporting Kansas City the exception. And in that instance, the Revolution already had threatened with a pair of shots before Saad pounced on Jones’ ineffective clearance.
“There’s been times where you can say, ‘Look, we haven’t started well, and haven’t played well,’” Heaps said. “But I think we have started well, and I think we have played well.”
Rowe finds groove: Many athletes who have had to fight their way back from injury will tell you that one of the toughest aspects of returning to the field is channeling their ability to play with confidence again. Kelyn Rowe is no different.
After hamstring injuries forced him to miss six games during the early part of the season, the third-year midfielder struggled to reclaim the form that allowed him to lead the team in assists last year.
“Coming off the injury was hard,” Rowe said. “I wanted to get back in and be the guy who would make an impact right away, and it’s hard to do that when you’re out of the team for so long.”
But over the last few weeks, it’s become clear that Rowe has found his groove again. In his last eight games, the midfielder has collected three goals and three assists. His five assists on the year are tops on the team.
“I think Kelyn’s been really good (on) both sides of the ball,” Heaps said. “I think when Kelyn is working on both sides of the ball (and) finding the gaps defensively, then his defense turns to offense -- he’s at his best.”
Jones update: Four days after he exited the Revolution locker room in a walking boot, the result of a fierce battle with Mallance during Saturday’s game, Jermaine Jones was not present during passing or possession drills during training on Wednesday.
The official status of the 32-year-old midfielder, who was rapidly approaching full fitness with his new team before the injury, will be released on Thursday’s injury report. However, Heaps did offer a glimpse into Jones’ prognosis prior to training on Wednesday.
“We’re progressing with him,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, we’re managing not pushing him too fast, and we’re optimistic.”
Hoping to go the full 90 minutes for the first time in his young Revolution career, the veteran midfielder’s evening came to a halt at halftime after he suffered a left foot injury during the first half. But the way in which he suffered the injury left him seething.
“I don’t know the name of that player, but he tried maybe two, three times, without the ball, to kick me,” Jones said. “One time he got me, and it’s not nice when you feel like you have players that try to hurt you –-- like this guy tried to hurt me.”
While Jones professed that he did not know who caused his injury, which he said occurred around the 20th minute, all signs pointed to Impact midfielder Calum Mallace as the guilty party.
The opposing midfielders dueled for a pair of 50/50 balls during the 22nd minute, and on the first one, Mallace was tripped by Jones. On the second occasion, Mallace’s intent appeared clear when he barreled into Jones with little regard for playing the ball.
“I’m not the guy normally to say something -- I play hard too so I can take it,” Jones said. “But this guy today, he was not nice. I hate people who don’t go for a tackle and try to get the ball. If he had tried to get the ball, I wouldn’t have said anything.”
Although referee Alan Kelly whistled a foul on Mallace, Jones held his hands in the air in disbelief that the Montreal midfielder was not issued a caution.
“He had no chance to get the ball, and he went straight for my bone,” Jones said. “I hope the referees will see that the next time.”
Jones pressed on from there and played the rest of the half relatively unaffected. But after the training staff examined his left foot, the coaching staff decided to take err on the side of caution.
“He had a little bit of a contusion,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said following the match, “and right now he’s being looked at, and we just want to be smart and we took him out.”
Jones said that he underwent X-rays, which confirmed that there was no break. The veteran midfielder told the media that it was a bone bruise.
While Jones probably would have preferred to solider on for the second half, he ultimately decided that the best course of action was to heed the advice of the coaching staff.
“It’s not so bad,” Jones said. “It was swelling at halftime, and I could feel a little bit of pressure on my feet, and we didn’t want to take any risks, so I (went) out.”
The injury will probably put Jones on the injury report for Saturday’s match against Columbus, a game in which the Revolution will hope to extend their six-game unbeaten streak.
But after Saturday’s match, the only opponent Jones appeared concerned about is the one on tap for Oct. 11 in Montreal -- the third and final meeting between the Revolution and Impact.
“We’ve got a second game; we will see what happens there,” Jones said. “He hurt me, and I had to go out. I can take it, and I’ll see him again.”
But for the third straight game, the Revolution rose out of an early deficit and claimed another comeback win, this one a 2-1 victory over the Impact.
"You don't like to start that way," Heaps said. "But in the end, our conviction was really good, and we probably should've had more (goals). Unfortunately, we didn't finish it, but we're happy to get the win."
It wasn't all that long ago that the prospect of a comeback victory was little more than pure fantasy for the Revolution. After all, through the month of August, the Revolution had lost 11 of their previous 13 games when conceding first.
Then, in a crucial conference clash against second-place Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 3, something changed. After Soony Saad scored inside of nine minutes, the Revolution took a stance. Instead of hanging their heads, they pressed ahead, and returned fire three times to secure a 3-1 victory.
Much like they did against Kansas City earlier this month, the Revolution saw Calum Mallace's 13th-minute strike for what it was: a goal. Not a bad omen or death sentence. Just a goal. And they saw something else, as well: plenty of time to find opportunities to answer it.
And that's exactly what they did, and in quick succession, too. Ten minutes after Mallace's strike -- which came in the face of a defensive error from Andrew Farrell -- the Revolution responded. Kelyn Rowe hunted down a poorly cleared ball in front of the box and blasted it through the hands of Troy Perkins.
Two minutes later, it was Lee Nguyen's turn to scribble his name on the scoresheet when Charlie Davies grabbed hold of a tricky ball inside the box and fed Nguyen, who chipped it over Perkins for the go-ahead.
"I think it's our mentality and also our will to keep fighting," Nguyen said. "We don't keep our head down when we get scored against and at the same time, we're looking to not only to score one goal but we want to keep attacking."
But even though the lead was theirs, the Revolution did something else they hadn't done prior to their recent string of comeback victories: They kept the foot on the gas instead of going into a shell.
Just before halftime, Davies ran unmarked toward the near post and ripped a shot that required a heady save from Perkins, who faced 18 shots and was called upon to make eight saves on Saturday.
"After we got the second goal, you can see from the guys we kept pressing and tried to get the third goal," Nguyen said. "That's the fight (and) the mentality we have on the team."
The opportunities continued to flow for the Revolution in second half, albeit with a little help from their hosts. After Krzysztof Krol's 62nd-minute red card left the Impact short-handed for the duration, Nguyen nearly netted his second goal of the game in the 64th minute when he speared through the box and drove a low shot that was cleared away by Miller at the last moment. From there, Davies and Diego Fagundez found opportunities to extend the lead, but were denied by an alert Perkins.
"It almost propels us to be a little more confident in our passing and they drop off a little bit," Heaps said about going down early. "So it actually helps us a little bit (because) they drop in a little bit, and we start to open them up."
No doubt, resiliency has been the key for the Revolution during their last three wins. And while stronger starts will surely be a point of emphasis in training this week, Heaps couldn't help but see his team's confidence grow, even in the face of adversity.
"Now that we've done it a few times there's that belief," Heaps said. "Even going down a goal tonight, it was clear that we were going to get our chances and we were going to have opportunities to win the game."
After Calum Mallace opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Rowe and Nguyen responded with strikes in the 23rd and 25th minutes, respectively. However, Saturday's match may have come with a price to pay after Jermaine Jones was forced to come out at halftime due to a left leg/foot injury.
The Impact finished with 10 men after Krzysztof Krol was issued his second caution and subsequent ejection for a rough challenge on Rowe in the 62nd minute.
With the win, the Revolution extended their unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1), while the loss keeps Montreal winless in their last three (0-2-1).
What it means: For the third straight game, the Revolution fell into an early hole, and for the third straight game, they climbed out of it to get the win. Clearly, the club's resiliency has improved considerably since their midsummer struggles. Prior to their current six-game unbeaten run, the Revolution had sported an embarrassing 1-11-1 record when conceding first. It's often said that a tell-tale sign of a playoff team is mental strength. If that's true, then recent results suggest that the Revolution will be playing November soccer for the second year in a row.
Stat of the match: Saturday's win puts the Revolution one result away from matching their season-best seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2), which stretched from April 12 through May 24.
Scoreboard watch: With the win, the third-place Revolution (42 points) climbed within three points of second-place Sporting Kansas City (45 points), while putting themselves four points ahead of the fourth-place New York Red Bulls (38 points).
Three changes to Revs lineup: Daigo Kobayashi, Teal Bunbury and Charlie Davies all returned to the starting lineup after coming on as substitutes in Sunday's win over the Fire. With the trio all returning to their regular spots, Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez took spots on the bench, while Patrick Mullins did not make the game-day roster. Caldwell came on at the start of the second half for Jones, while Fagundez spelled Bunbury in the 76th minute.
Castillion makes debut: Dutch striker Geoffrey Castillion, who was signed by the Revolution on Aug. 25, saw his first action with the Revolution when he came on for Charlie Davies in the 76th minute. The 23-year-old completed six of his nine passes, and won an aerial duel during his late-game cameo.
Impact field makeshift XI: With the playoffs no longer a reality, and a number of starters recovering from injuries, Impact coach Frank Klopas fielded a makeshift lineup for Saturday's match. Among those who did not start and/or were not available: midfield general Patrice Bernier, newly signed midfielder Ignacio Piatti, and team-leading scorer Marco Di Vaio.
Back on the road: The Revolution head to Columbus for the first time this season on Saturday when they face the Crew at Crew Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. The Revolution will be seeking to avenge a 2-1 loss Columbus handed them at Gillette Stadium on July 26.
The Revolution enter the match on the heels of Sunday's 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire, a game in which Diego Fagundez scored his first goal since May, while Jermaine Jones collected an assist on Charlie Davies' game-winning goal. The victory was the club's third in a nine-day span, and gave the Revolution sole possession of third place.
Although the Impact find themselves well south of the red playoff line, they've managed to make it tough on their opponents in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, they beat the Columbus Crew, and pushed the Houston Dynamo to the brink last week. Montreal's most recent measure of success came in a 2-2 draw against a streaking Los Angeles Galaxy side at Stade Saputo.
Saturday's meeting between the Revolution and Impact comes months after the latter upset the former 2-0 at Stade Saputo on May 31. The loss was the first of eight straight the Revolution suffered during their summertime slide.
Here's what to watch for with the Revolution hoping to avoid a repeat performance:
• Impact not to be overlooked. The stats don't lie: Montreal has not performed particularly well during the course of the 2014 campaign. They're at the bottom of the table, and have spent much of the season struggling to find their form. But just because they haven't put it together for extended periods doesn't mean they're a pushover. For proof, just ask the Galaxy, Dynamo and Crew, all of whom were put on their heels by the Canadian side in recent weeks.
"First and foremost, they're a quality team," Revolution striker Patrick Mullins said. "They've got some good players, and they've certainly showed that in the past couple of weeks. (Plus) they've got a recent DP signing (in Ignacio Piatti) and he's a very good player."
• Is Diego Fagundez ready to go on another tear? For the first time since May 24, the 19-year-old found the back of the net in Sunday's win over the Fire. While Heaps cautioned that it wasn't Fagundez's best game by any stretch, there's evidence to suggest that the winger is primed for more. Earlier this year, Fagundez broke out of a nine-game drought by scoring four times in a three-game span. If success breeds confidence, then the Impact may have their hands full with Fagundez on Saturday.
• Preparing for Piatti. One of the reasons why the Impact are finding some long-overdue doses of success has been the play of designated player Ignacio Piatti. The 29-year-old midfielder arrived last month, and since then, has made a seamless transition to the team. In his first five games, he's scored four goals, and has already established a rapport with reigning Golden Boot winner Marco Di Vaio. In the past, the Revolution's primary concern was Di Vaio; now, with Piatti on board, the Impact are a far more dangerous squad than the one seen back in May.
"When you have that kind of technical ability that he has with a knack around the goal, it's always difficult," Revolution coach Jay Heaps said, and he and Di Vaio are really working well off of each other. I think they have a good connection that translates well to the game."
• Getting maximum points before a trying stretch in schedule. Saturday's match will mark the Revolution's fifth home game in their last six, and to their credit, they've taken full advantage. Not only have the Revolution collected 13 points since the beginning of that stretch, but they've also climbed from sixth to third place in the standings. With the close of their fortuitous scheduling break on tap, the Revolution must do all they can to cap it off on a high note. For after Saturday's clash, four of their final six games will be on the road, and all against conference foes.
• More surprises in store for the rematch? In their last encounter, the Impact scrapped their traditional one-striker system for a two-man tandem up top, and the move paid immediate dividends. The unexpected switch caught the Revolution off guard, with Andres Romero scoring inside of three minutes. Had Di Vaio's aim been sharper, the Impact could've very well put the Revolution in a three-goal ditch even before Jack McInerney tallied in the 38th minute. With the Impact pulling a fast one on them back in May, Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell said New England will be ready to adjust.
"They spread us out with two forwards last game," Caldwell said. "We're not sure yet if they'll be playing the same way, but we're going to have to treat it just like any other game."
Two weeks to the date in which MLS granted the rights of Jones to the Revolution, Heaps was effusive in his praise for the former Bundesliga veteran following his new club’s 2-1 win over the Fire.
“I credit him for the way he has gone into that locker room -- right away, he’s gone in,” Heaps said following Sunday’s win. “I think that’s the most surprising thing when you bring in a player like that is that he’s a team guy.”
While Jones has made the rapid progression from substitute to starter within a matter of days, it’s what Heaps has observed off the pitch that has really stuck with him.
“He walks in the locker room, and within minutes, he’s got four, five, six guys around him,” Heaps said. “They’re talking about football, they’re talking about the game, they’re talking about the opponent coming up. Right away, he’s fit in.”
Of course, the Revolution didn’t pay a princely sum for a locker room guy. In adding Jones, the Revolution sought to stabilize their midfield, bolster the attack and bring a heavy dose of the physicality they’ve lacked since Shalrie Joseph departed two years ago.
So far, Jones has delivered on all accounts and then some. Through his first three games in a Revolution uniform, his passing accuracy is 83 percent, he has won 71 percent of his duels and, most notably, has collected two assists -- both of the sublime variety -- in winning efforts against Sporting Kansas City and Chicago.
What can’t be measured, though, is the seasoned leadership he brings to one of the youngest teams in the league. In the opening moments of Sunday’s match, he yelled out instructions, motioned toward teammates and directed traffic to ensure that there was purpose to their movements.
“I try to help them, like, in some situations, we tried to make the next step,” Jones said after Sunday’s match. “I was playing in big clubs and big games already, with the World Cup and all that stuff, so I have a little bit of experience and I tried to help the guys in a good way. It’s nice to see that guys do what I say.”
But to say that Jones is operating under his own accord would not be accurate. Rather, the veteran midfielder is hoping to parlay his coach’s instructions from training and pregame preparation directly onto the pitch.
“I try to help the coach on the field, and be maybe his right arm on the field, but still, it’s just (three) games,” Jones said, “and the team makes it really good when I’m on the pitch.”
It didn’t take long to figure out that his role for Sunday’s game was decidedly different than the one he was asked to undertake during the midweek match against Sporting Kansas City. Instead of playing deep, Jones was allowed greater freedom to roam with defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell back from suspension.
“I’m a lot of times a No. 6, but it’s always the position from the coach,” Jones said. “The coach will come to me and ask me what position I prefer (and) I will say like more of the guy who goes box-to-box and not only stays (back). I like that position more than only to stay (back).”
Not surprisingly, that willingness to do whatever is asked of him -- especially as a player who has performed at the highest level -- has endeared himself to the coaching staff. It’s a refreshing development, to say the least, given the “me-first, team-later” stereotype that’s become the unfortunate norm when it comes to high-priced signings in MLS.
“I think that’s one thing that I’m so proud of him, is that he’s come in to be a part of the team,” Heaps said. “You can’t say that about every (designated) player in the league, and I think that it shows.”
But after going 90 minutes last week in Toronto, and 61 minutes against Kansas City five days earlier, Davies found himself on the bench. From there, he watched his team go down a goal, then watched them level it, all while patiently waiting to hear his name from the technical area.
Then, around the 58th minute, he got the call. He quickly shed his warmup shirt, donned his No. 9 jersey and, within moments, burst onto the pitch. Two minutes later, he scored the game-winner, tipping the game in the Revolution’s favor and sending them to a 2-1 comeback win.
“That’s kind of my job, to come on the field and change the game,” Davies said. “I wanted to make an immediate impact, and I was fortunate enough to have Jermaine (Jones) play me a great ball.”
At first blush, the absence of Davies from the lineup was curious in some respects. Since scoring in back-to-back games earlier this summer, he infused much-needed life into a stagnant attack and appeared to earn the role of starting striker until further notice.
But leaving Davies out of the lineup for another critical conference clash was by no means due to poor form. Rather, it had everything to do with the game plan, and keeping Davies, who hasn’t played a full season since 2011, from burning out.
“As a staff, we really felt that tonight was going to be one of those games where later in the game, his speed was going to make a difference,” Heaps said. “Charlie’s put in a lot of minutes, so we were also managing that as well, so with all the factors, we thought it was a good time to bring him in (later).”
That decision proved to be a masterstroke. The Fire, who showed signs of life early, were starting to fade. The Revolution, who entered the game on a four-game unbeaten streak, were collectively pressing for a go-ahead goal in front of the home crowd. In short, it was the perfect scenario for Davies to take center stage.
And that’s exactly what unfolded at the hour mark. After Jone Goncalves dug the ball out of his own end, he raced ahead and linked up with Jones, who received it and raced ahead while dodging a pair of defenders. At the last moment, he released it to a streaking Davies, who chased it down and, with only Sean Johnson to beat, sent it through.
“You could probably see my eyes get real big,” Davies said. “I saw it was going to be a one-on-one with me and Sean Johnson, and I know he’s a big keeper. So you have to put it low and in the corner, and you have to hit it with good pace to beat him, which I was fortunate enough to do.”
And that’s essentially what Heaps asked Davies to do just before the No. 9 flashed on the fourth official’s board.
“(They’ve) got two tired center backs, and that’s what we felt was a good time to put Charlie in,” Heaps said. “We went to him earlier than we thought, and he went in and changed the game within two minutes.”
Davies may not have started, but Sunday’s match was proof of what can happen when a coach and player are on the same page, regardless of how it looks on paper.
“I was starting to feel it a little bit,” Davies said, alluding to the two starts he earned within a four-day span. “But I felt good today, and I knew that it was probably for the best that I get a rest today. It’s one of those things where you have to respect the coach’s decision and be ready for when your name is called.”