CARSON, California (Reuters) - He was one of the success stories of the United States' World Cup campaign in Brazil and now German-born Jermaine Jones hopes to deliver a maiden MLS title for his New England Revolution.
The Revolution, who will visit LA Galaxy for Sunday's final, have lost four previous trips to the title game but under young American coach Jay Heaps they have emerged as a respected force.
Perhaps what pushed New England beyond being a promising team and into title contenders was the arrival of Jones.
After a career in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04, Jones, who also had a spell in England with Blackburn Rovers, moved from Turkish club Besiktas to New England in August.
Heaps doesn't hide his admiration for the combative 33-year-old midfielder or underplay his role in the team's success.
"First of all there is his ability on the field. He has the ability to spread the ball, to dribble to get the job done. He is top of the league. He adds that along with the grit, the fight and the ground coverage," said Heaps.
"But what he has brought to the locker-room has been vital. He came in right away with a presence, he is a guy's guy in the locker-room, telling stories, he doesn't come in with airs on himself, he comes in and he is around the guys."
Jones, the son of a German mother and American serviceman, grew up in Germany but has relished the opportunity to immerse himself in American soccer after being given a central role on the national team.
He clearly enjoys being on a tightly-knit Revolution squad.
"There is a feeling like it is a small family," said Jones. "In Europe maybe players focus a little more on themselves, you don't have so many friends in the team, it is more like work."
What has always been central to Jones's game, even on some occasions his downfall due to indiscipline, has been his intense competitive nature.
Jones is clearly fired up for Sunday's match.
"After the 90 minutes I want to raise that cup. I will do everything," said Jones.
"My wife and kids will be at the stadium, I will have more than 20 people in my own box in the stadium so I want to celebrate afterwards with them and not sit and cry."
Editing by Frank Pingue