Ever since the World Cup ended, the Fire have been attempting to bring free agent midfielder Jermaine Jones to Bridgeview. Their pursuit of the German-American has been well-documented and for a while it seemed like it was a matter of time before it became official. Now the signing is in doubt with the New England Revolution heavily pursuing Jones. Lost in all of the confusion has been Jones' fit with the team and if it will even work.
Pro: He's good - like, really good.
Yes, Jermaine Jones is 32 years old but as we all saw this summer down in Brazil, he still can play the game at the highest level. Some were skeptical of how much he had left in the tank after his stint at Besiktas but there is no doubt anymore that he would have a huge impact in MLS. Jones would immediately become the best player on the team and improve the team on the paper.
Con: Where would he play?
The first year of Yallop started with the promise of technical, quality soccer and has led to several line-up and formation tweaks. This makes me wonder where Jones would actually play on the team. There is no point in the spending a large sum of money (more on this later) if the team doesn't know where he will play. The arrival of Cocis has crowded the midfield even more, a situation which can't be fixed via trades due to the roster freeze. Could he play out left like he did briefly in Brazil? Would he play in the center with license to roam and create? These are questions that need to be considered.
Pro: He could push the team into the play-offs
Even though the season has had rough patches and we've all seen enough draws for the next three seasons, the playoffs are still very much attainable. In the world of MLS' parity, a hot streak over a few games can make the difference between tearing up a roster and saying "hey, we just need one or two more pieces this offseason". Every Fire fan wants to be in the playoffs and Jones, along with Cocis and Earnshaw, could be the midseason push the team needs.
Con: He's expensive
To win in professional sports, you need to spend money, that's not debatable. You do have to spend it wisely, though, especially in a league such as MLS. Their are rumors that Jones wants Michael Bradley money ($6.5 million) and the Fire doesn't seem willing to pay him that much money.
There are a few things to consider here. First, MLS isn't a league that all high-profile, high-paid players succeed in (hello Nery Castillo). I believe that Jones' style would adapt well to MLS, but there is no room for error for the Fire this year. Could the money be spent better somewhere else? Is there another Earnshaw-type player out there for the team? If the Fire are going to give a 32-year-old midfielder a multi-year, multimillionaire dollar contract, let's hope it works out because if Jones doesn't pan out, it could set the Fire back for awhile.
Pro: He would raise the profile of the team
Jermaine Jones coming to Chicago would be a big news story for the team and bring more attention to Toyota Park. Winning is the most important thing but every team wants to sell more jerseys, tickets, sponsorships, etc. A player of Jones' caliber can do and with his performances in Brazil, it could be time to strike while the iron is hot.
Con: What about the younger players?
As mentioned early, the arrival of Jones would crowd the midfield which could limit playing time for Chris Ritter and Benji Joya. No matter what happens, Harry Shipp will continue to find plenty of playing time, there are no concerns there. With the team trying to find the right balance of competing now and building a foundation for the future, it's important that players like Joya and Ritter see the field. Jones could limit their time and that is something to consider because with the right coaching and playing time, both of those players could become two valuable pieces for the Fire after Jones retires.
There is no doubt that the Fire are a team in transition. The youth movement that is going on at the club is encouraging but the pressure to win now is also obvious. The signing of Jermaine Jones could be a either a huge boost or a huge bust. Either way, it should be exciting.