When the Fire closed the book on their 2014 season supporters knew wholesale changes were in store for a team that struggled to a 6-10-18 finish. The departure of familiar names like Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares, and Steven Kinney gave way to new players coming in, many of whom were unfamiliar to most Fire fans, including Trinidad and Tobago's Joevin Jones.
Jones, a 23-year old who went pro at the age of 19, and saw his first cap for his home country at age 20 , has shown his versatility early on for the Fire, spending time at both left back, as well as in the midfield. “I've been focusing on training hard, and I have certain goals I've set for this season,” Jones told Fire Confidential after training on Tuesday. “I've been settling in okay so far, I just want to keep playing hard, and working hard in training....I want to have a certain amount of assists and goals this season, and I want to be the Best Newcomer to the league this year.”
That's certainly a tall task, given newcomers to the league like David Villa, Kaka, and eventually Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but Jones' work towards those goals is paying dividends regardless. In his first five games, he has already registered on the stat sheet for the Fire, earning an assist on Harry Shipp's first goal of the season against San Jose, and scoring a goal worthy of a MLS Goal of the Week nomination in Chicago's 3-2 win against Toronto FC.
“I had trials at Toronto FC and Colorado (before), that did not go through...I've been trying to come to MLS for three or four years now. It's a pleasure for me to be here, finally. ”
Part of Jones' success can be attributed to what seems to be a smooth transition to MLS from Trinidad & Tobago's Pro League. While every foreign player seems to handle a move to MLS differently, Jones' success comes not only from his pedigree as a leader during his time at W Connection, but also as son to Kelvin Jones, who also played for Trinidad and Tobago's national team and was part of T&T's “Strike Squad,” a team that faced the USMNT in a November 1989 World Cup Qualifier that served to unite his home country.
“I think football is just in our blood. I always wanted to follow my father's footsteps and make my family proud, to reach on the big stage......I'm happy to be here in Chicago.”
Frank Yallop has already given Jones praise numerous times early on in the season, and sees him as an integral part of the Fire's push for success in 2015. “I like him,” Yallop told reporters last week when asked about Jones' play. “His teammates enjoy the way he plays and he slowly but surely is going more and more into the games for longer spells. I think JJ is settled in, and is starting to really pick up his game.”