Jermaine Jones could be available to return to the Colorado Rapids' starting lineup for next week's playoff second leg against the LA Galaxy, coach Pablo Mastroeni says.
Jones missed three and a half months this season with a knee injury, but he returned to play 22 minutes as a substitute in the Rapids' regular-season finale before coming on at halftime on Sunday at LA.
And Mastroeni said Jones could be fully fit within week with the Rapids needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit in their home leg on Nov. 6 -- not to mention the United States' highly anticipated World Cup qualifier against Mexico five days later.
"There's a possibility that he's ready to go," Mastroeni said. "Having been out for four months, my biggest fear is setting him back with an injury.
"You've got to put chains on him to keep him off the field, but I think tonight is a performance that shows that he's relaxed and not thinking about his knee. He's moving well, making some good plays. Looking forward to a good week of training and we'll see how we go."
Jones had one of the Rapids' better shots at goal in Sunday's loss, lashing the ball inches wide of the post from the top of the box in the 59th minute.
"I thought he came in and gave us some good energy," Mastroeni said. "He had a few good looks on goal, did a lot of dirty work in the midfield and won some balls. I think there were moments in the game where he brought the tempo of the game down for us, gave us some good possession of the ball and some territory as well.
"Like everything else it's going to take a little bit of time [to get back to form after returning from injury], but I thought his performance was very good and gave us a boost."
Jones said he was eager to get back to action after his long layoff.
"I feel good," the midfielder said. "Me and Pablo had a conversation before the game and it was all good so I said, 'OK.' At halftime he comes to me and says, 'Are you ready?' I'm always happy to come back. I'm happy to be on the field and play."