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U.S. Men's National Team

SBI Question of the Day: What should Jermaine Jones' role be with the USMNT?

Jermaine Jones caused shockwaves with comments he made on Monday about his standing within the U.S. Men’s National Team. Now, those comments have reignited a debate that has been going on for quite some time.

Is it time for the U.S. Men’s National Team to find a new starting option in midfield? Jones is 35 and still playing a key role for the team, even amid criticism of his play and calls for a change from the media and some fans.

Speaking to ESPN, Jones stated that he feels that he doesn’t command the respect he deserves from followers of the U.S. Men’s National Team. The veteran midfielder says he isn’t revered like Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard, but is instead a target of harsh criticism for his missteps with the national team.

Jones says that criticism is a personal motivator, one that he plans to use as he looks to push on through the 2018 World Cup. He expects that push to be successful, despite his advancing age.

“Bring me the guy who is better in that position,” Jones told ESPN, “and show that week to week in the league, against me, against other teams, I respect it and I will say, ‘If he is better I will step away’.

“I am 35. I can step away and say I had a good career, but right now if we be honest, ask my teammates or the people inside, there is nobody who can take my spot. If it comes to a game, a tough game there is nobody who really wants to battle with me.”

Jones’ comments come in the wake of more criticism stemming from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Panama. Just days after the team looked outstanding without Jones, in a 6-0 win against Honduras, the USMNT struggled with Jones in central midfield in Panama. Obviously the matches were much different, and Panama was a more difficult test, but that hasn’t stopped some from asking whether Jones was part of the problem.

With younger options like Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and even Emerson Hyndman coming up through the ranks, the USMNT seemingly has a wealth of central midfield options. Jones, undoubtedly remains one of those options, but where should he stack up now, as we head toward an important summer, with the next World Cup just a year away?

Are Jones’ stellar past tournament performances enough to justify his spot? Is he still one of the best midfielders in the pool? Is it time to turn over the position to a younger option with the World Cup looming?

Cast your vote here for the USMNT role you see being best suited for Jones now, and feel free to share your reasoning in the comments section below.

36 comments
  • wychijeff

    With Lletget going down injured, I’m not sure how you can say anything other than consistent starter. Seems like it is only Jones or Bedoya who can play that spot right now. Pick your poison.

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    • UclaBruinGreat

      I voted occasional starter. Even with Lletget gone, Jones and Bedoya aren’t the only options. Basically you need to fill two spots and you can choose from:

      Bradley, Jones, Benny, Sacha, Acosta, Williams, Bedoya, Morales, Nguyen, McCarthy and even Hyndman. Lots of options. You can even play Nagbe there assuming both Pulisic and F. Johnson are available for the two wings.

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      • wychijeff

        Fine, but none of those other players have proven capable of playing at Jones’ level and until someone does, Jones remains a full time starter. Jones even said it, when a player comes along who is better than he is, he will step aside. Jones thinks and two Nats head coaches have agreed that he is still the best player at that position. Backup QB syndrome causes fun discussions but you have to trust the coaches who watch them practice and compete regularly.

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    • Dennis

      Jones is 35 and except for a spell last year has been pretty resilient and immune to injuries. However as players age injuries happen more often and they take longer to recover from. Remember it was only 4 years ago when Cherundolo was the starter at right back for the USMNT.

      With age comes some wisdom, some tactical awareness, a gradual loss of strength and quickness and some injuries that take longer to recover from. Jones is like everyone else, time is not on his side.

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      • SilverRey

        Jones hasn’t even played 3000 min yet in his MLS career (which is ~1 MLS season), only 40 games in 2 1/2 seasons. Some of that missed time was due to international duty, a chunk was from suspensions, but a good amount of that has been injury.

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  • Johnnyrazor

    We now have a nice two month stretch of MLS with no USMNT games to see the form these guys are in. Will Acosta continue to excel? How will McCarty, Bradley, Bedoya, Sacha, and Benny play? Odds are at least one of these guys will get injured. Plus with more wing options hopefully getting healthy like Zardes, Johnson, young guys like Arriola, and Manneh formation also will say what role JJ will play.

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    • Mike

      Smh at speaking players getting injured into exsicteance. Also Manneh has jets for days. I have him on my Celts Virgo career mode team and have seen him at alot. Manneh does not play CDM or holding mid. Whoever would do that would be wasting Manneh speed on the wings or up top in the Jozy role.

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      • johnnyrazor

        Sorry was typing on my phone it doesn’t let me see all that I had typed. What I was trying to say was we might change formation to make room for speed guys like Manneh, not that anyone would play him as CM.

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    • Chris the LSU tiger

      Jones made a grand total of one recovery tackle against Panama. Bradley had more than ten. Nagbe had six. You want Jones to be a holding midfielder? He hasn’t played that role in years.

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    • SilverRey

      No. Just no.

      He is a chaos destroyer, not a shield in front of the back line and distributor.

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  • DJ

    I much prefer Jones to Bedoya, and the younger players need to be seasoned and brought along at a reasonable pace. I actually agree with a lot of what he says. He should be remembered forever for the SnoClassico, and his spectacular play at the 2014 World Cup. The guy has an engine that just doesn’t quit.

    He’s still a good fit in our pool, but particularly for one thing: leadership. He’s an alpha male kind of guy, and he can help aid the development of the younger guys at the international level. It’s true that he and Bradley don’t always pair well together, but that’s not always his fault.

    In any case, his playing days are winding down, but it’d be to everyone’s benefit for him to help pass the torch.

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  • bizzy

    he should be given a fair shot as our starting DM with Bradley on the bench. We know our team is effective with just Bradley and we know Jermaine Jones is a better player, so its only logical to field a team with Jones in that center role

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    • Amru

      “we know Jones is a better player”

      Lol I love how you state this an an obvious fact, I disagree but that’s besides the point. Even if he his a better player the USMNT is worse as a team whenever he is out on the field. Also I would not trust him to be the DM because he loves to go hunting after the ball and it will leave our back line exposed.

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      • bizzy

        “Lol I love how you state this an an obvious fact”…hahaha Amru, have you not been watching US soccer? If not let me help you out….

        Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, regardless of what you all think are not in the same class. Jones is more experienced than Bradley, is a better defender than Bradley, is Tougher than Bradley, more of an offensive threat than Bradley, more versatile than Bradley

        Jones might be a little reckless but he is more versatile that Bradley

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    • UclaBruinGreat

      I agree with Amru. In my opinion you can’t say that Jones is clearly better than Bradley. They are both inconsistent and both have strengths and weaknesses.

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      • Socceroo

        They both have had bad days lately, but Jones had great games during the World Cup and the Copa America. When was Bradley’s last great game?

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    • johnnyrazor

      I liked how you chose a video with Bradley and Jones both starting. I hope you noticed how well spaced they were in that 4-3-3, as opposed to last weeks 4-4-2 Empty Bucket. That being said the Jones we saw against Panama was not the player in your video, if he regains that form then yes he’s a starter if not then as JJ said someone is going to take his spot and probably soon.

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      • bizzy

        Johnnyrazor,
        I picked a video to show both Jones and Bradley on the field together but to show Jones toughest and superiority. Because we some how tend to forget his contributions and abilities (me included!!!). You are 100% correct and I have to agree with your observation, in that the “Jones we saw against Panama was not the player in your video, if he regains that form then yes he’s a starter”. True, but remember at one time Bradley hit a horrible slum too and quite frankly at one point everyone on here were screaming for his head, but Klinsmann stuck with him.

        If we are speaking about current abilities even Michael Bradley is not the player he once was. For the position they are battling for (Defensive midfielder) Jones is a better player than Bradley, more experienced than Bradley, a better defender than Bradley, breaks up opposition plays better than Bradley, is tougher than Bradley…..and the list goes on. Bradley / Jones midfield will never work Johnnyrazor no matter what you do or how you space them. The mindset of the players just seem to neutralize their productivity on the field

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  • USA_FAN

    Write the same story only put in the name Bradley. As long as Arena insists in using that pair we will have little offense.

    Jones was very valuable last cycle. Less so this cycle. Pair him with Bradley, who has also slipped a lot, and we have trouble. Arena better use the Gold Cup to find more, younger players. I do not want to see Altadore, Bradley, Jones, Dempsey or any other aging past star in that tournament. I am really cutting Arena a lot of slack so far as I think he is an improvement over JK but if he can’t see that some of these guys are done, then he needs to go too. No 30++ player can keep up with people in their 20s.

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    • johnnyrazor

      I want Dempsey only so he can blast past LDs goal record. Don’t want that hanging over him into Fall qualifiers.

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      • Gary Page

        That’s the only reason you want Dempsey? He is still our best goal scorer, and I don’t mean just from the Honduras game. In the Centenario he had 3 goals, tied with Coutinho and Alexis Sanchez for third most, ahead of players like Lavezzi, Aguero, Di Maria, Arturo Vidal, James Rodriguez, Enner Valencia, and Chicharito, to name some pretty distinguished players.

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  • I scored three goals in one game

    first thing that should be done is find a formation that best fits the player pool and then find a starting XI. If its a 5 man midfield he should be in there until someone steps up or until they clinch a spot in the next world cup(if they clinch). If they play a 4 man flat or diamond he shouldn’t be starting. I think the gold cup will help decide some of these questions whether certain players are capable of replacing him. I know formations change and against different teams they should but a base formation would be nice against teams in concacaf that the US is suppose to beat. against the mexico and costa ricas I understand changing things up.

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  • whammmm

    I don’t see why this is even a question. Every usmnt player in the pool should have the opportunity to be a starter if they give us the best chance to win, base it on opponent, formation… whatever you want. If two players are equal and one is older than the other I’d assume age is the tie breaker. Just seems hypothetical. To send someone packing based SOLELY on their age is ignorant. I don’t agree completely with what JJ said, he kind of threw some teammates under the bus… maybe that’s due in part to a translation issue but what he said about his experience, desire and effort wasn’t wrong in my opinion.

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  • Adam M.

    Jones is largely right. He has way more experience in the highest levels of the club game than any US player (for now), he was unquestionably one of the best players last cycle, and his hint that maybe he should be starting in the 6 spot with Bradley on the bench if the formation calls for is credible. But Jones will be 37 in 2018, not 35, and relying on him too much now is poor planning. Its not simply a question of someone taking the job away from him, as he says. its a question of who has the experience in 2018 to replace him if/when he can’t carry that position as a starter.

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  • chris_thebassplayer

    Matt Doyle nailed it…

    There is a price to pay to allow Jones to free lance.

    Do you think his streaky play can consistently put you over the top in games at the risk of minimizing the ability of some of his teammates. Imo, that is the discussion in a nutshell.

    I don’t think that is the best approach going forward.

    But it really only matters what Bruce thinks…and I’ll bet he really liked the chemistry and combo passing he saw when Lletget and MB played together in the middle.

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    • Dennis

      I agree, Jones likes to get too adventurous to play the DM role against strong opponents. Bradley while he does not have the ferocity of Jones is much better at being in good spots nearly all the time. Both are, of course, imperfect, but in a position where the US cannot afford to be missing a player, Jones goes missing too often. Bradley tends to stay home and provide outlet options for teammates, while Jones tends to abandon them from time-to-time.

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    • Socceroo

      If Jones makes his teammates worse, how do you explain the dramatic improvement of the 2 MLS teams that occurred immediately after he joined them?

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  • Gus

    I also think Jones is saying. I play the destroyer/provider role. If somebody wants to come in here and say they break up offences and wreck people more than me, or makes a key pass at a key moment, then step the hell up. And honestly, he fulfills that role really well, he’s an agitator, he motivates people and frustrates opposition, he can turn a game on its head with a pass or a yellow card, if anybody fires the team up its him. He’s saying he’s a game changer. And I completely agree with him. #wrotetipsy

    Like

  • Johnnyrazor

    For the Gold Cup Gary which I prefer the play the youngsters with a few vets sprinkled in philosophy.

    Like

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