Atlanta United techincal director Carlos Bocanegra says his own personal experience of facing Kenwyne Jones persuaded him to offer the Trinidadian forward a contract.
Bocanegra played in the Premier League for Fulham between 2004-2008, with the two players’ paths crossing when Jones led the line for Sunderland in a match on October 27, 2007, during which he scored in a 1-1 draw.
The 37-year-old admitted he was impressed by Jones’ physical attributes, something which he feels makes it difficult for a defender to guess what his next move will be.
“What I do remember about him is that he’s a big, physical guy,” Bocanegra said. “I remember his elbows were right around my chin and nose area, which you don’t like as a defender too much.
“He’s a tough guy and I do recall for his size he has good pace, and obviously you see the power.
“Sometimes he can be unconventional as far as – not in a bad way, but maybe his first touch is not fantastic every time. But he’s strong enough that he can power through you, almost. It’s not pretty, necessarily, but it’s effective.
“For a defender, that’s difficult to deal with. You’re not actually sure each time how he’s going to try and hurt you.”
Jones is currently one of seven players registered with the new franchise – all of whom are out on loan – which starts in 2017, although the club are yet to appoint a new head coach.
Bocanegra says the club’s recruiting of players goes much deeper than the talent they exhibit on the pitch and believes Jones’ personality fits the mould of the type of player they want in Atlanta.
“He’s the captain of his country, which is fantastic,” added Bocanegra, who captained the US national team during his playing days. “He’s got that veteran experience. He’s been in a bunch of different dressing rooms, so he knows how to manage those.
“Is he a good guy? Is he going to fit in our locker room? Is he potentially going to help our younger strikers around him? Is he a team guy or is he in it only for himself? Those are all the things we look at when we’re trying to build a team because we have to build a culture as well.”