After a promising preseason, Tuesday's match against Club America was in a way going to define our expectations of Joevin Jones this season. This was, in all likelihood, going to be the premier level of opposition that he'll face this season as long as Club America brought a majority of their first team.
In that respect, Club America did not disappoint as they pitted not just Mexican national team right back Paul Aguilar but also Colombian national team striker Darwin Quintero directly against the youngster from Trinidad and Tobago.
And Joevin Jones more than held his own on both sides of the ball.
He combined for 2 interceptions in the box and a tackle on Aguilar in the defensive end to pair with 8 recoveries. He was an active defender on the left and kept Aguilar from doing damage with his passing in the Sounders' half.
On the offensive side of the ball, Jones was a box-to-box player holding down the left side of the Sounders' tactical schema single handedly. But he accomplished this with much more than his dribbling and passing, as Jones made a concerted effort to push play back into the center of the pitch and the waiting feet of both Clint Dempsey and Andreas Ivanschitz. The centralized approach worked to suck the America forwards into the middle on defense, neutralizing their ability to get in behind Jones as he did made his forays deep into the opposition half.
This had it's most dramatic effect on Darwin Quintero. The Colombian was most dangerous when making runs from outside in trying to move off the back shoulder of the Sounders line. When he was forced to come inside to defend by Jones' almost steadfast approach to pushing play into the middle, he became largely ineffective on offense. Meanwhile Jones' pace and aggressive stance on the left kept Paul Aguilar isolated wide, opening space for both Dempsey and Ivanschitz to attack the space between himself and the America centerbacks separating them.
While nothing Jones did was particularly flashy, he showed conservatism and a commitment to the gameplan on offense to go with a commanding control of his own portion of the pitch on defense. While that's not to say he was flawless because he made mistakes in either phase of the game -- like every other Sounder on the pitch -- if this is the ability he can bring to the Sounders week-in and week-out, I can't wait to see what we can do against MLS quality oppositions.