Thu, Feb

Seattle Sounders FC's Joevin Jones with the 2020 MLS Western Conference Championship trophy after an epic come-from-behind 3-2 win over Minnesota United.

T&T’s Joevin Jones is intent on guiding the Seattle Sounders to their third Audi Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup title in four years when they square off against Columbus Crew in the 2020 final on Sunday.

The 29-year old midfielder began his career with the Sounders in 2016 and played an integral role in capturing the MLS Cup in his debut year and then once more in 2019.

Seattle was unable to defend the crown in 2017 and finished as runners-up behind winners Toronto FC. The following year they were eliminated in the quarter-final round.

After defeating his compatriot Kevin Molino’s Minnesota United 3-2 in a Western Conference final come-from-behind thriller on Monday, Jones believes his team has what it takes to retain the MLS Cup. This crucial win also saw Seattle extend its home postseason winning streak to 15 games, an MLS record.

Heading into Sunday’s title match, Jones is optimistic the Sounders can successfully defend the trophy.

“The atmosphere is great around the team. We’re confident going into the final. We had a good run. Although it was a rollercoaster year for us, we pushed through to get to the final. We overcame many things and it’s an honour to be in the final again.

“As players and as a club we all set our goals for this season and this is all we wanted: to be part of history again and to win another cup.”

Reflecting on his recent competitive reunion with former Mucurapo Secondary player Molino, Jones said he was pleased to share the pitch once more with his fellow countryman.

Although elated to have progressed to the cup final for a second consecutive year, the Seattle star commended Minnesota on their historic run of form. This was the first year the club reached the MLS Cup Playoffs since its entry two years ago.

“It was a tough match and Minnesota played well. They had a good run, with some ups and downs this year – particularly the pandemic and then the death of George Floyd there. Reaching this far was historic and meant a lot for the city and the club. It was a good but difficult game,” he added.

By advancing to the 2020 MLS Cup, Seattle joined DC United as the only clubs in MLS history to make four finals in a five-season span.

Jones believes his presence, likewise Molino and others on the international pro circuit, have an opportunity to use their experience and professions as examples to help inspire young and upcoming T&T-based footballers.

His pro career began with domestic club W Connection where he made his first-team debut in 2009, at 17. During his time, Jones won the T&T Pro League title twice and the FA Trophy in 2013–14.

After his fourth season with W Connection, in 2014, he was loaned to Finnish club HJK Helsinki. Jones then moved to MLS side Chicago Fire for the 2015 season, before spending the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Seattle Sounders FC.

He joined German second division Bundesliga club Darmstadt in January 2018 but later returned to Seattle in May 2019.

“I think it’s important to let people know where I come from. To be on this big stage is a blessing and a showing for our country.

“It’s just to let people know that we have good talent in Trinidad and Tobago and make the passageway easier for more Trinbagonians to get in the league in the US and other parts of the world,” he said.

Additionally, before the start of Monday’s western conference final, both Jones and Molino posted a photo on social media with the pair holding jerseys with the words: “Protect our women and children. Please T&T!”

The gesture came after the murder of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley last week sparked a national outcry for justice and an end to violence against women. Riley left her San Juan home last Sunday to visit her grandmother but went missing after getting into a PH taxi. She was found dead in Santa Cruz on Friday.

When asked what inspired the move, Jones replied, “This was a strong message to our country about the amount of missing people, especially the girls. We did it to put some pressure on the evil people out there. It’s time to stop this madness.”

For 2020, the murders of 45 women have been reported in T&T.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday