From T&T to PPL: Stoke's Kenwyne Jones to take on countryman Keon Daniel
The bulk of the storylines during Stoke City's United States preseason tour have centered on the Potters' trio of American players. After all, the first two stops were in Houston and Dallas, former club homes of current Stoke men Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea, respectively.
Philadelphia, Stoke's final stop (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., purchase tickets) offers a different connection between the English Premier League side and MLS — one with a decidedly Caribbean flair.
Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones and Union midfielder Keon Daniel were teammates on the Trinidad and Tobago side that made a quarterfinal appearance in this month's Gold Cup, an achievement that Jones says was important for his country.
"It was fantastic for us," said Jones. "We haven't been in the Gold Cup for six years previously, so it was really good to get into [the tournament], and of course to do well enough to get into the quarterfinals. Hopefully, we can build on that, and do better the next time out."
It did not take either the Stoke striker or the Union midfielder long to make their mark on this year's tournament. Daniel and Jones each scored a goal in the Soca Warriors' first fixture, a match against El Salvador at Red Bull Arena, en route to a 2-2 draw. The Union midfielder's ability was not lost on his fellow countryman.
"[Keon] is wonderful. He is a technical player. [The Union] have had him here for a couple years, and I think he's doing well. He's a joy to play with. Hopefully, he can take his experiences from the Gold Cup and bring them here and help [the Union] to do well."
Jones went on to score a second goal in the group stage, a penalty that opened the scoring in an eventual win against Honduras. The match clinched advancement from the group stage for Trinidad for the first time since 2000, a feat that the Stoke City forward did not take lightly.
"There are not so many games in the tournament where you can be afforded the privilege to score so many. It goes so quickly. Happily enough, I did score that many to help us to get out [of the group stage], so I am happy for that."
Fresh off of the success at the Gold Cup, both Daniel and Jones are re-integrating into their club teams. Jones has played in England since 2004, most recently for Sunderland before Stoke City, but that does not mean the 28-year-old is unfamiliar with MLS, even before he met Daniel with the international team.
"[Keon] didn't have to tell me anything about MLS. I've been following MLS from the time it began, really, so I know much about the league, I know it's growing, and I know it's getting better every year. Hopefully, that continues."
Despite Jones' familiarity with both Daniel and MLS as a whole, he says that he has not spoken much with his Trinidadian teammate about tonight's match.
"It's not like we're in the same league or anything, but it will be nice to see him after the Gold Cup, and of course to play against him here in PPL Park. It's my first time here, so I'll enjoy it."
Like the rest of Stoke City, Jones will use the match against the Union to prepare for the Premier League season, which Stoke City opens against Liverpool on August 17.