U.S. national team midfielder Jermaine Jones is set to return from a prolonged injury absence in the Colorado Rapids' regular season finale Sunday, ahead of the MLS playoffs and Hexagonal stage of World Cup qualifying.
The veteran, who turns 35 next month, has been sidelined since July 4 with a knee sprain, sitting out 16 matches. In quotes published by The Denver Post, Jones said his recovery lingered because the lateral collateral ligament was almost entirely torn from the bone.
"This is why it took so long," Jones said. "We were trying to keep it [quiet]. But it was a bad injury and I was lucky. The doctor told me if it was ripped from the bone [completely] I would be out 6-8 months. It's 14 weeks I think."
Jones has recorded three goals and two assists in eight matches for the Rapids following a trade from the New England Revolution in March but has made just one appearance since May 21 because of the injury and the U.S. squad's Copa America Centenario run.
The central midfielder hopes to log "some minutes" in the Rapids' match against the Houston Dynamo at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Colorado has secured a bye to the Western Conference semifinal as a top-two finisher, and sits two points back of FC Dallas in the Supporters' Shield race.
"I say, 'Colorado gets a new player for the playoffs,'" Jones said. "I try to give my impact to the team what I showed already: I try to score goals and hope that we can say, at the end of the season, that we are champions."
Jones' return puts him in contention for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. side that will open the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF against Mexico on Nov. 11 in Columbus, Ohio, before traveling to face Costa Rica four days later.