The fine capture of Jermaine Jones for the New England Revolution was celebrated in Massachusetts this week, and rightly so.
Having pipped the Chicago Fire at the post to secure his signature, there is now a hope that the 31-year-old will orchestrate a return to winning ways at the Gillette Stadium.
No Playoff Hopes
However, while the United States midfielder may add the talent and tenacity that Jay Heaps' side have missed in recent months, there is little chance that he will grapple a play-off place from the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union without enhanced performances from his new teammates.
Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were the previous two national team heroes to return to Major League Soccer, and their fortunes suggest what may lie in store for Jones.
While Seattle Sounders FC initially put together an impressive run upon Dempsey's arrival, they then failed to win any of their final seven regular season matches, with the Team USA captain netting just once, and crashed out of the MLS Cup to Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers.
The arrivals of the ex-Fulham man and Obafemi Martins on Designated Player contracts had been much heralded, but it was the winter acquisitions of Stefan Frei, Chad Marshall, Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa that have complemented the former pair and provided a line-up capable of competing for the Supporters' Shield.
At Toronto FC, read Bradley and Jermain Defoe for Dempsey and Martins. Though the duo have been in Ontario for less than a year, the improvement in performances from a mid-season recruitment spree is clear. The signings of Collen Warner, Dominic Oduro and Luke Moore, and a run of one defeat in ten, propelled the struggling Reds into play-off contention in the Western Conference.
That's where the Revs want to be, and fortunately, they can already boast the players to make such a dash possible. Bobby Shuttleworth, Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney, Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez wouldn't look out of place in a title-winning team. However, a combination of form and fitness has seen their stunning early season form badly wane.
Patrick Mullins and Charlie Davies have both shown they have the talent to notch goals at this level, but their scoring streaks have so far failed to coincide. Though AJ Soares and Andrew Farrell are defenders with the ability to keep the division's top performers at bay, a record of 22 concessions in 11 games suggests otherwise.
Jones will give New England a much-needed boost, but it's time for the supporting cast to step up.
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