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June 06, 2016

Matt Jones on his Philadelphia Union debut: 'No keeper likes to concede'

Safe to say, it's been an eventful two weeks for Matt Jones.

Ten days ago, the Union's backup goalkeeper left the team during its two-game road trip, flew home from Florida, and witnessed the birth of his first child.

Six days after that, he earned his first MLS start, and first MLS win, standing in for Andre Blake, who had reported for international duty with Jamaica.

With his wife and newborn in attendance, Jones and the Union took all three points and put themselves four points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

"It was a massive three points for us," Jones said of the 3-2 win. "If you look at the table now we've got a healthy lead in front of us. Obviously, it was a big game for us and we've got a bit of a break coming up now, so it’s a message that we have been able to send to the rest of the league that we are here for good. We are not going to go away and the big games, we manage to pull out results. From a team standpoint, it was a great result. Obviously, from a personal standpoint, it was great to be out there. The fans were great once again. So from a personal standpoint, I can be happy with my debut and just look forward now.”

Jones admitted that he wasn't entirely happy with the performance, which was his first at top-level since January 15th. That was a 2-2 draw against Sporting Lisbon and it took place more than four months ago.

Jones did play 90 minutes for Bethlehem Steel in a 2-1 win against FC Montreal back on May 15th, but this was his first Union appearance since joining on-loan from Belenenses in the winter.

"(I was) a little bit disappointed with the goals," Jones explained. "Obviously, no keeper likes to concede, especially the one in the last minute. It was a little bit hard to take, but at the end of the day, it is part of the game. You have got to take the positives out of the game and go from there.”

There wasn't much Jones could do on the first goal, which started with Ethan Finlay breaking free on the right side and crossing for Ola Kamara. Ken Tribbett had lost his footing, giving Kamara a free look on goal, and the Norwegian striker acrobatically slotted home from close range.

An iffy moment in the second half saw Jones flap at a corner kick, only for the ball to come off Justin Meram's head and clank the near post.

Then, on the second Crew goal, it was Finlay pushing to the endline and picking out Christian Martinez for a first-time, diving header inside the near post.

“Yeah, the ball came across quick and the guy made a late run just around the penalty spot," Jones said, explaining the goal. "And unfortunately, he had a little time to pick his spot and he just took it well at the end of the day. It is one of those things that the result was the most important thing, and three points are in the bag, so we will go from there.”

The Union don't resume MLS play until June 18th, and Blake will be back for that game if Jamaica doesn't make it out of the group stage of the Copa America.

The club does, however, start U.S. Open Cup play on June 15th, and manager Jim Curtin will have to decide between Jones, or second-year goalkeeper John McCarthy. McCarthy played the bulk of USOC games last season and has played more than 700 minutes for Bethlehem Steel this season.

Jones hasn't had a regular run of games since playing 11 in a row for Belenenses dating back to the fall of 2015.

Still, he says he didn't feel any rust on his Union debut.

“No, nothing crazy," Jones said. "Obviously getting that game rhythm is important for the 'keeper. Being able to read the ball is important and that doesn’t come overnight. From that standpoint, yeah, it was maybe a tiny bit of rustiness, but from a personal point, I was happy with the way things went. It was a big three points.”