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With bounce-back performance, Jones moves one step closer to World Cup dream with USMNT

Jermaine Jones

Photo by John Todd/


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jermaine Jones walked through the mixed zone at Crew Stadium looking like the most patriotic player on the U.S. Men’s National Team. Jones was holding a United States stick flag over his right shoulder and his neck was decorated with one of the scarves U.S. Soccer distributed prior to Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico.

He was clearly proud to be an American, especially after helping his team qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

For Jones, Tuesday night’s 2-0 victory over arch-rival Mexico was one of the sweetest moments he has had since making the decision to switch allegiances from Germany to the U.S. in 2010. Jones not only bounced back from a subpar showing in last week’s loss to Costa Rica by delivering an impressive outing in a U.S. midfield that was missing Michael Bradley, but the 31-year-old veteran also took another step towards reaching his goal of playing in a World Cup.

“I switched from Germany to America and a lot of pressure was on my situation,” said Jones, who was handed more offensive responsibilities than usual on Tuesday. “I’m half American and half German and I love both countries. My mom is German, my dad is American and I’m proud to help the team to come to the World Cup.

“It was always first in my head, that it’s my first World Cup and my last chance maybe to come to a World Cup. I’m not the youngest one (anymore), so I was trying to be focused every game and in this game today.”

Jones has been a lightning rod for criticism since playing in his first U.S. game in September 2010. Part of that is because he has in fact struggled in his fair share of matches, but part of it is also down to him playing a position that is not very glorious due to all the defensive responsibilities that it requires.

Michael Bradley, Kyle Beckerman and Danny Williams have all endured similar criticisms over the years when playing in comparable defensive roles, but that does not take away from the value that their American teammates and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann have for them. Jones is no different.

“He’s been amazing. He showed why he’s playing in Champions League today,” said DaMarcus Beasley. “Today, he’s fighting. The ball he played, he was very simple. We told him, against (Costa Rica) he was kind of forcing it a little bit, trying to make the game. But we told him, ‘Let the game come to you.’

“He did that today, he played amazing, breaking up plays, keeping the ball when we needed to when everybody was tired. We’re lucky to have him on our team. We’re lucky to have him.”

The Americans were also lucky that Honduras drew Panama, 2-2, on Tuesday night, a result that helped the U.S. assure its place in next summer’s World Cup and one that came following its win over Mexico.

The U.S. players and staff watched that Honduras-Panama match from inside their locker room at Crew Stadium, and the wild finish to the game in San Pedro Sula made for some nervy moments for the Americans, especially with Panama scoring an equalizer in the 90th minute.

“We was watching the game and we was a little bit shaking when Panama make the late goal, but it’s a good result for us,” said Jones. “We played a good qualification and so it’s normal that we go to Brazil.”

Now, Jones’ focus is on continuing to solidify his spot in the U.S. lineup ahead of next summer’s World Cup, as that tournament will serve as the culmination of this grueling World Cup qualification campaign for Jones and also his decision to play for the United States.

“For me, it was a lot of pressure when I switched,” said Jones. “All the people, they look and know, ‘He plays in a big team in Germany.’ For this game, it was important for me, too.

“I needed to be focused, I know with a win and Honduras tie or a win, that we can go to a World Cup. I try everything to help the team in this time.”


  1. This is an obvious oversimplification,but part of me thinks that the biggest determining factor for the fate of the U.S. in Brazil will be the play of its two most enigmatic members — Jones and Dempsey. Both are top-quality players, but they seem prone to puzzling stretches of poor play — Jones because of is tendency to get a bit out of control (in terms of cards and positioning), and Dempsey because of his stubbornness and independent streak. (I’m not sure I’ve used the rights words for Deuce, but I’m sure someone will get on my case about it.)

    • Brain Guy,

      I would suggest the problem is not with Dempsey who is not an engima but rather with your expectations
      Like a lot of people on SBI it is as if you attach this laundry list of categories ( tackling, passing, dangerous passes, turnovers, energetic appearance, sweat soak and grass stains on uniform, etc, etc,) to every player for every match and depending on how that list adds up at the end of the match that is how your rate the player. Perhpas it is because you have a fantasy league mentality, where how the player’s actual team does it irrelevant to his fantasy value.

      It makes more sense to me to evaluate a player on a more overall basis i.e. does he do what the coach asks him to do and does he help his team and teamates do well?

      Deuce’s primary role with the US is to score vital goals consistently:

      2011 14 games 5 goals
      2012 9 games 6 goals
      2013 10 games 6 goals

      In that time span, the US has had no other alternative for consistent goal production. A lot of USMNT fans here downgrade that but I don’t see how you can qualify for the World Cup if you don’t score goals. Look at Mexico.

      For the US, in the last two years, Deuce has been scoring at a rate of about of about a goal every 1.6 games. That is a ratio similar to Thierry Henry’s ratio at his peak, very high class.
      Clint is not an enigma. He is an otherwise unremarkable midfielder with a gift for consistently scoring important goals.

      Without that gift,coaches would not play him, Fulham would have dropped him and he’d be a semi regular for some mid level MLS team.

      But since he has it, coaches, and most important, his teammates, will put up with his inconsistent contributions in other areas of the game. I’m pretty sure that if you gave truth serum to his teamates they would all tell you they would rather Clint play than not.

  2. I don’t understand all the JJ hate. The dude is class and one of the best players on the squad. If he is healthy in South Africa, Ricardo Clark doesn’t see the field and the USA is in the quarter if not semi finals.

    • Don’t hate him but he’s not consistent enough. Played much better (and more importantly, harder) last night. When we needed him, he stepped up. Good for Jones and good for USMNT.

    • I can help you understand the “hate”:

      JJ is clearly one of the most talented and accomplished players (particularly in a CM position) that the US has, and probably has ever had. Yet, he’s turned in quite a few subpar performances given his quality and caliber. Thus, he is judged to a higher standard than most.

      • No, it’s more like this:

        Beckerman is more consistent, but Jones has way upside. Unfortunately in the World Cup every game counts so you can’t count on when the upside is going to be there.

  3. I’m sure others here have noticed that Ive$ is writing articles on GOAL now. Just watch, I predict this will lead to all the Mexico +rolls finding out about this site and coming over. They will turn it into the tr@$$ that is the GOAL comment boards.

    • This makes so much more sense now. The +r0ll factor was also a lot worse in the old days when he was ESPN affiliated. Looking forward to insults generated on google translation service.

  4. I’m sure others here have noticed that Ives is writing articles on GOAL now. Just watch, I predict this will lead to all the Mexi-trolls finding out about this site and coming over. They will turn it into the tra$$ that is the GOAL comment boards.

  5. JJ is quality obviously, had a bounce back game after struggling which is what quality players do because they believe in themselves, which he clearly does. Believing he’d play well vs. Mexico last night with a tremendous effort was a pretty sure bet and he delivered

    on the passionate debate below, figuring out how to work together has been an interesting ride to observe with other pairings at times appearing to be more effective. That doesn’t slam either player to observe that imo.

    they are different kind of players. I do think that Michael’s linking play thru midfiled is the team’s best (not talking about what they do for their clubs here) but JJs game isn’t inept in that and he brings an incredible physical presence and he’s a great defender

    I just hope they can play optimally as a PAIR which I don’t think we’ve seen, certainly not consistently.

    • If you could combine the best of Mix and Ras-Beckerman you would get an improved Michael Bradley 3.0.
      Criticism of Mix is that he is a bit of a lightweight – needs to do some work in the weight room, maybe do some Judo, Capoeira and/or T’ai Chi push hands, even modern dance to develop more skill at riding out challenges, using his body to protect the ball, and also muscle people off of the ball. Other than that Mix is an awesome young midfielder in the vein of Johann Neeskens (Dutchman, Cruyff era, Clockwork Orange).
      Beckerman actually is very well coached and knows how to “stay down on the farm” and do his dirty work, hold down the fort. My criticism of Beckerman is that he is too unidimensional in his dribbling and distribution – needs to stop and shift his position, reverse his direction, stop and survey the WHOLE field, L and R before distributing the sphere.

  6. Oh if he had not gotten hurt in 2010, this would have been his second WC and we could have done, most likely, sooo much better in 2010.

    • That was an amazing combo, but did they actually play together in that World Cup? Reyna was out the first game with an injury and I think JOB may have ended the WC injured. Did he play in the Germany match?

      • You are correct that Reyna was out vs. Portugal with injury. JOB and Reyna then played the full 90 together vs South Korea, Poland, Mexico, and Germany.

  7. Jermaine Jones is a stud. He starts in Brazil… A real fear instilling destroyer that has the ability to score. Klinsmann loves him for good reason. Staying healthy is the major concern for Jones.

    • Rock solid.

      People melted after the CR game about Jones. Yeah, the guy had a bad game but which player did have a good game in CR?!?!?

      JJ has showed his worth for us over and over again and why he deserves to be there. He’s got tons of energy. I’m glad the guy is on the team.

      • Others played poorly almost as a result of his play continually putting the US on the back foot and giving the ball away in dangerous areas. He certainly bounced back against Mexico, but do not excuse his performance against CR.

      • I didn’t excuse him…I acknowledged his bad play. However, I disagree that he is the sole reason so many people played poorly in CR. Of course it affected the team but we can’t peg it all on him.

      • I agree, Jones’ play was one of several factors that affected the overall play of the USMNT against Costa Rica. The field conditions, the last-minute injury to Bradley, etc., surely also contributed to the unsettled appearance of the team.

      • “Others played poorly almost as a result of his play continually putting the US on the back foot and giving the ball away in dangerous areas”

        I never really understood this argument. For me, most of Jones’ bad passes are over the top and go out of bounds for either throw-ins or goal kicks, which we just reset our defense. They aren’t giveaways right in front of box or balls leading to counterattacks.

      • but, in truth, he did not have a bad game, he had a bad first half. after that, he stabilized. and now, in retrospect, I think the pairing with Cameron threw him off. And I mean no disrespect to Geoff, who IMO is one of the top 5-7 players on the team. (Let’s play him at right back, Jurgen. Okay?)

      • I agree with the last partnership issues with Cameron because it was last second and JJ is more used to and comfortable with MB.

        Also, agreed about Cameron as a top player as well.

      • he played a better second half but by then the damage was done and he really struggled in that first half. agree the last minute injury to MB seemed to mess up the whole team and threw him off, and understandably so, and Costa Rica deserves credit as well including their apparent game plan to pressure JJ immediately into rushing which he seemed to do that first half a lot

    • He was awesome yesterday, hopefully he stays healthy & maintains self-control. When I think back about the silliest yellow cards…Jones rules the list.

  8. I’m glad JJ has shown that he can be the player for us that he is at Schalke. Klinsi needs to really sit on him and make sure he plays that simple game he plays with Schalke. He’s treated JJ with kid gloves to this point and needs to come down more forcefully. I’m also a little worried about his age. Work rate, physical CMs tend to age badly. Id like to see a backup partner for
    mb groomed just in case. For today, though, we should be very happy with his performance last night.

    • Tom, I was looking to find another one of your posts to disagree with you since you took personal shots at me on the Columbus post. However, I’m sad to say I have to agree but do you think it’s possible that Bradley can play more of the role he is comfortable with and groom someone like Diskerud to play more offensively? Seems like that would work better than forcing Bradley to continue to be the major offensive catalyst in the midfield isntead of him playing a role more like he does at Roma.

      • I was wondering the same thing. I really, really like Mixx, but am wondering why he can’t draw any interest from bigger leagues. Maybe it’s his lack of physicality? Maybe he will draw more interest as he gets more caps and USA has more and more impressive performances. I was a huge Felhaber guy back in the day, so I can obviously be wrong about these things. Mixx needs to keep developing all aspects of his game to avoid the pstagnancy Benny fell into. Corona may be a possibili there as might his teammate Arriola too eventually, though likely not in time for this cycle. MB is so versatile that he can play either role, but he’s so tactically aware defensively and so accurate with his long balls that he might be slightly better at the deep lying role and spraying passes around. It’s pretty close, though.

        Re your Columbus post, i just didn’t get why you had to turn an amazing performance by Columbus into, what seemed to me, a hateful, off topic and politically motivated rant. I thought it was inappropriate. I’d much rather argue and debate soccer like we are doing here.

      • Yes, I agree. The soccer analysis is more fun. I really did mean everything in a soccer context though. I know it didn’t come accross that way. Wish I could delete it now.

  9. I’m glad he turned it around. After Costa Rica I had my doubts. One thing about Jermaine is that he can make that killer pass while is playing the deep central role. Even if Bradley is going forward, he has the ability, more than anyone on the team I would say, to give that 30 yard ball over the top to our striker or winger. When we have speed like we do with Donovan and Johnson, I think it will come in very handy at the WC.

  10. Ives, why are you writing articles for and not for your own site after the biggest games of qualification. Is this Soccer by Franco or what. PS. Franco your articles are great.

  11. Did anyone else notice after EJ scored the header that Jermaine Jones stands over the Mexico and totally punks him. I didn’t know what to think about it other than it looked super intense.

  12. So who’s on the plane to Brazil? My thoughts, with some open decisions to be made in parentheses:

    Up top: Altidore, EJ, Dempsey, (Johansson/Gomez?)
    On the wings: Donovan, Fabian Johnson, Shea, (Bedoya/Zusi?)
    Defensive mids: Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, Diskerud
    Centerbacks: Gonzo, Besler, Cameron, Goodson
    Fullbacks: Beasley, Evans, (Castillo/Parkhurst?)
    Keepers: Howard, Guzan, Rimando

    • I’d say Shea is on the outside looking in of that group. Bedoya has been solid and I think Zusi gets more benefit of the doubt if healthy. Also would replace JAB for Goodson – hoping he plays well in the Bundesliga this year. Maybe adding Chandler assuming he gets it in gear this season?

      • That’s fair. I’d also take Brooks over goodson if he was cap-tied, but he just hasn’t demonstrated to us much in the context of the national team. There is still time for him, but we only have 2 more cap-tying games left between now and Brazil.

        I’d also like to have Chandler there over Castillo and parkhurst, but he needs to put in some work between now and next June to really lock down a spot over those guys.

        Shea remains an enigma for me, maybe for others too. It depends on the kind of season he has at stoke, staying healthy, and learning how to make dangerous runs at defenders. Fabian Johnson already does that pretty well, but it’s a task necessary for klinsmann, and you have to have a backup.

      • At this point, it seems clear to me that Chandler’s burned his bridges with the USMNT (especially under Klinsmann). It’s not a matter of talent, ability, fitness or form, so much as it is a question of his commitment and his desire to represent the USA. His flakiness in previous call-ups (declining call-ups at the last minute, “not wanting to fly,” etc.) has Klinsmann (and probably his international teammates) seriously doubting how much he cares about being a USMNT player, especially in stark contrast to his German-American counterparts, such as Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, and Terrence Boyd, who have all shown a deep commitment to the USMNT.

      • There was an article about ten days ago where Timmy Chandler was interviewed because he was recently demoted to the “B” team, or “bench” team at Nuremberg, and he was saying it’s the lowest point of his career. He said he wants to be called into the Nats, and thinks this will hurt his chances even more.
        So I don’t think it’s just a question of commitment, I think his game is just way off, and both his coach and JK know it.

      • I think it’s all of the above, Chris. But, as I’ve said before, his snub of Klinsmann’s Gold Cup invitation might have been the last straw. That was Timothy’s chance to win back his teammates, the fans and Klinsmann and the guy didn’t do, whereas Landon Donovan seized the opportunity.

    • You’re joking if you think Shea deserves a spot based on recent form for club and country. I’d replace him with Bedoya most likely, but Zusi’s still got a shot.

      Johannsson’s got the edge on Gomez based on the latter’s fragility alone, nevermind that Johannsson’s scoring like crazy for his club.

      I believe Cameron’s going to be their on the basis of his versatility, although I imagine his role will be solidly as a bench player. Goodson may or may not make it, but I think Brooks will be there in the end. I’m still unconvinced Beasley will be there by next summer (likely FJ will be the LB, with Donovan playing LW and Bedoya or Zusi at RW), and the same is true of Evans, although who exactly will step up at RB remains to be seen. I can’t imagine it’ll be Parkhurst unless his club situation changes drastically before then.

      • What in the he!! has Aron Bacon Johannsson done to have already won a ticket to WC 2014 over Herc Gomez. Sorry, don’t buy that. At the current time, if Gomez is fit I’ll take him any day of the week for WC game over Bacon. Not saying that I might not change my mind if Bacon actually does something between now and next summer to prove he deserves a spot, but, in Klinsmann’s words, he hasn’t yet don sh!+ and Herc proved before his injury that he can get the job done.

      • If the current trends continue, Gomez’s inability to stay healthy lately is a major mark against him in a month-long tournament like the World Cup. Meanwhile, Johannsson plays in an excellent league in Europe and is also playing in Europa League, and has been tearing it up. I agree that Johannsson needs more time with the USMNT, but he’s got several months to get that time in and continue to develop in the USMNT environment. But if he keeps being a goal-scoring beast, with his familiarity with European opposing players (of which there are A LOT more at the WC), you have to like his chances of winning a spot on the WC squad over an aging, breakable striker who’s playing primarily against CONCACAF-based players (of which there are far fewer at the WC).

      • I agree, he looked good against Bosnia in a friendly. and I open to him proving he is deserving of a ticket. But if the roster were called today, I don’t think he should be on it. and, I admit, I am a fan of Herc, who was a key player in the qualifiers last year when others were faltering.

      • I agree that Johansson will likely be on the plane to Brazil. At least if his current form holds true. Although for the record, I’ve never been a big Herc fan. The only role I believe Herc should ever play for the US is as a super sub. He plays that role well, but he doesn’t have the pace or skill to beat out these other players. I put Herc just a half step ahead of Wondolowski, who for the record I’m not a fan of.

      • Shea wouldn’t deserve a spot based on his recent club form. But I think JK’s quote about him after the Gold Cup… Something like, “Coaches try to find a piece to insert in a game that the other coach doesn’t know what to do with. Shea is unpredictable to the other team and himself”… Was kind of funny and pretty telling. If he’s in decent form come WC time, I bet he’s in, because he brings something JK think no one else does.

      • I hope that we find fab Jo at left back for the wc and dolo or someone steps up at right back, but taking Beasley to the wc is a must for me.
        One- he earned it by playing out of position for the qualifying.
        Two- great experience/veteran leadership for locker room having been there before.
        Three- great back up for left back and left mid. I’d take him over Castillo or Shea.

    • For now, that’s a pretty solid list. I do think Bedoya would be on the plane if it left today, as would Zusi. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cameron in a fullback role, given our lack of depth there. And I think Gomez is probably on the way out of the picture at this point.

      I saw someone point out on a different thread that there are still 8-10 games left before that point, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes before next spring.

      • Thanks. Yeah, I didn’t mean to pigeonhole Cameron in as a centerback, and as others have stressed, he’s there for his role as a utility at many positions.

        Johansson certainly is doing great for club, but I would be really surprised if he makes the plane without making an impact in the next couple games. The road to Brazil is going to be a blast.

      • With the USMNT already qualified, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johannsson getting some minutes in the remaining games to get a better look at him. Ditto for Brooks (with the added bonus of cap-tying him), and maybe Klinsmann will take advantage of the luxury of essentially inconsequential matches to test out some other options at LB and RB and see if we can’t find anything that looks promising that he could build on over the next several months.

      • And if Panama gets a tie against Mexico at Azteca, in the last game we can field an experimental squad full of youngsters and if Panama beats them, Mexico will be out of the world cup.

      • There is no question in my mind that if Geoff Cameron continues to start at fullback for Stoke, which would indicate that he would be playing at the same high level has played there so far, that that will either be starting next summer at right back or will be Number 2 right back. I think against Costa Rica we saw his limitations at d-mid, at least as long as he playing only right back at Stoke. We have plenty of d-mids, ridiculous of Klinsmann to be playing right back Cameron there.

  13. I don’t get why JK hasn’t sat him down and told him, “When you play with Bradley, he’s the one we want in a more attacking role, so you need to stay home and shield the defense. If you don’t, I’ll pull you out of and put in somebody who does what we need them to do.”

    • I don’t get why people on this site keep saying stuff like “When you play with Bradley, he’s the one we want in a more attacking role blah blah blah.” because it’s obviously not a true statement.

      It’s like you guys just don’t watch the two men play or something and like never notice the fact that it’s Bradley who often drops very deep to come and get the ball. Where is Jones supposed to go when that happens, other than up field, out wide, or to an obvious passing lane? Both Jones and Bradley have tremendous engines and both of them end up all over the field.

      Jones is a lock to start when healthy. And to keep playing just like he has been playing. Whatever he’s doing, Klinsmann obviously likes it. And that’s all that matters.

      As for me, I just enjoy watching the only player on the USMNT who regularly plays Champions League football, regularly plays for a truly top-class club team, and so on.

      • Maybe you’re not watching the two men play…it’s a simple fact that the US’s attack is more potent when Bradley can get forward and create (than it is when Jones attempts to do so). But the Bradley-Jones tandem often leaves Bradley in the position of HAVING to drop deep to compensate for the fact that Jones is running all over the place instead of playing that deep-lying role that allows Bradley to play farther up. On talent, Bradley-Jones is unquestionably the best CM pairing available in the US pool, but if you take a broader view of how that affects the other 8 field players, the chemistry just isn’t right. Bradley is – and rightfully so – our midfield general, but when Jones insists on playing more of a box-to-box role rather than a defensive/holding midfielder role, Bradley’s tactical acumen results in him covering that role left vacant by Jones’ forays forward. Unfortunately, Jones isn’t nearly as adept as Bradley at creating in the attacking end, so the team as a whole suffers under this circumstance.

        Bottom line: I like Jones, but if he wants to start for the USMNT, he needs to play deeper and more defensively and allow Bradley to do what he does best.

      • To start for the usmnt, all he needs is to keep doing what he’s doing. Jones and Bradley is the best midfield pairing without a doubt

      • “it’s a simple fact that the US’s attack is more potent when Bradley can get forward and create (than it is when Jones attempts to do so).”


        Even that statement just isn’t true. There’s no denying that both of them are fantastic players, but puhleeze stop with the silly notions of Jones being the one “at fault” for whatever failings our central midfield pair may seem to have.

        You don’t even know if the chemistry is wrong. Quote from DeMarcus Beasley (in the above article):

        “He’s been amazing. He showed why he’s playing in Champions League today,” said DaMarcus Beasley. “Today, he’s fighting. The ball he played, he was very simple. We told him, against (Costa Rica) he was kind of forcing it a little bit, trying to make the game. But we told him, ‘Let the game come to you.’

        “He did that today, he played amazing, breaking up plays, keeping the ball when we needed to when everybody was tired. We’re lucky to have him on our team. We’re lucky to have him.”

        Chemistry seems to be just fine.

        Where are the “Jones is a yellow card waiting to happen” memes too? Let’s not forget that he did *not* pick up a yellow card in Costa Rica like so many others did.

        And this:

        “Bottom line: I like Jones, but if he wants to start for the USMNT, he needs to play deeper and more defensively and allow Bradley to do what he does best.”

        You’re just wrong. It’s a tired meme. Get over it. Klinsmann obviously disagrees with you.

      • The Beasley quotations you cited don’t support your argument. They attest to Jones playing well in the Mexico game – paired with Beckerman, not Bradley. I agree we’re lucky to have such a talented player on the team, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing what the team needs him to do on a consistent basis (not just one isolated match without his primary midfield partner).

      • Dude, who cares what you think?

        Your arguments are weak and old and tired.

        His teammates obviously love him and his coach obviously is going to keep playing him.

        See name change above.



        “On Michael Bradley’s good form and the partnership between him and Jones:
        “It’s very crucial, the partnership between Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. It’s really important that they over time develop a real fine-tuned understanding that when one goes forward and is attacking, the other has to secure him and stay back. Here and there they both end up in the opponent’s penalty area and you leave kind of a hole behind. Those are things we would love to work on in the near future, when we play both next to each other and maybe we play without a number six that secures them. It only works if one stays and the other goes, and this is very important. Hopefully now we have the time and more training sessions before a game to work on that, and I think in time if we develop that fine-tuned understanding between these two guys then we have a big plus.”

        So like both of them are responsible for defending and going forward. Welcome to the team!

      • Your quote about the dynamic between them below is informative: one needs to stay back when the other goes forward. If you’ve been watching over the past couple years, you’d know that this has been more of an issue of Jones coming forward when Bradley’s already forward, not the other way around. Why does that need to be worked on? Because Jones hasn’t been doing it that way. Bradley will drop back when he sees Jones going forward, but not vice versa.

        You’ve got Jones blinders on. I’ve already said I think he’s a good player, and I’m not even saying I don’t want him on the team. I’m simply saying that he needs to think about what’s best for the team as a whole, not just what his personal impulses are. So far, the pattern is that he hasn’t been holding up his end of that dynamic described in the quote below, which is WHY THAT NEEDS FIXED.

        What I don’t get about your vehemence is, presumably you agree that the team would be better if at any given point, one of them is getting into the attack and one is covering defensively…Bradley already does that, so why do you seem so adamant that Jones doesn’t need to adjust his game from his usually m.o. with the USMNT?

      • Jones is a really solid player we all agree. The issue we all refer to is the lack of Defensive understanding between Bradley an JJ. He has already cleaned up his game the way we wanted, the yellow cards have stopped coming. There are two more things I want to see from Jones.
        1) improve his consistency. With MB you get what you get almost every game. JJ has a few more ups and downs. We need that to improve. 2) There is a setting in FIFA games called attack work rate, I’d like to see his drop just a little bit. A few more times every game, just stay true to defensive responsibilities instead of running up the field. It can create holes and leaves counter attacking lanes. There is a balance, we don’t want him to ignore offense and be a pure #6 he is too talented for that, but he needs to be just a little bit more selective in when he gallivants forward. Allowing MB to also select his own moments.

      • I tend to agree that the Jones criticism misses the mark a little bit.

        I think unfortunately, when Jones came to the national team, he already had a reputation as a “reckless” and primarily defensive player based on his club play, and although he’s defied the label repeatedly over his time with the national team, commenters fall back on that label because first impressions stick. Bradley, meanwhile, benefits from having been with the national team program for so many years. As fans, we’re attached to him because we’ve seen him grow up before our eyes, so now that he’s blossomed into a complete player (and his father is no longer coach), we’re sort of rooting for him. The “Jones should stay back while Bradley attacks or we should find a new partner for Bradley” line of argument, while not unreasonable, at least partially reflects these biases.

        When comparing Jones to Bradley, I’d say both have attacking talent, it’s just that their strengths are slightly different. Bradley is slightly better dribbler (especially in traffic), but Jones’ vision and passing ability (particularly over-the-top and diagonal passes) is highly underrated, and I would say he is better at delivering perfectly-weighted passes that recipients can control and do something with. I think having them switch off on attacking duties actually gives our attack a degree of unpredictability that serves us well.

        The challenge as the team works its way up to the World Cup next year will be fine-tuning their relationship over the course of warm-up matches so that mix-ups between the two about who’s going forward become less frequent (they’ve actually decreased substantially already). I’m actually pretty optimistic they can make the partnership work, so to the extent we’re looking at other central midfielders, it’s really about building depth in case of injury/card-accumulation.

      • Well said. I do think MB has more chemistry with some of the attacking players. They just seem to make the right runs for him. No doubt both players have good vision and solid skills at both ends of the field.

      • @John: Thank you for making these points so clearly and eloquently. Drives me fricking crazy to hear this every time Jermaine Jones’ name pops up. It has become a mantra and makes no sense. I personally think that when Jones is in top form he is better than Michael Bradley. Bradley is damm good, no doubt about it. But Jones is better. That will change at some point in the future as Jones is older and on a downward slope. And maybe it happens by next summer in Brazil, but maybe not. They are both primarily defensive midfielders with attacking abilities when the opportunity arises.

        What struck me last night is Mix Diskerud, who was not even on my radar until the Gold Cup. He is a talent, cannot understand why he is still playing in Sweden. But he is only 22 years and he is getting better by the week and I think he is going to surpass Bradley sooner rather than later. Will be interesting to see where Klinsmann will end up playing him in coming months, but in the Gold Cup it seemed to me he was playing sort of the Michael Bradley. But I might have that wrong. After Mix’s great play last night, I think there is a chance he starts next summer in Brazil.

      • In absolute terms, factoring in club competition, I’d agree Jones is “a better soccer player” than Bradley. But for the USMNT specifically, Bradley’s much more consistent than Jones has been up to this point. I’d love for Jones to change that, because I agree with you that he’s an incredibly gifted athlete and one of the top talents on the team. I just wish the USMNT consistently got the kind of performances from him that he regularly puts in for Schalke 04.

      • I think for anyone who has watched all the US games over the past year or two to conclude that Jones is a better player is really kind of absurd. Jones is a really good player and deserves a spot on this club, but MB is always good. Game in game out you look back and say, MB did his part. He doesn’t have the same kind of blunders JJ has. Basing the quality of a player solely on where they play is just dumb. When Pele played for the Metro Stars was he suddenly worse than every player still in Europe? I don’t think so.

      • I think Dempsey has to be more concerned about a challenge from Mix than Bradley. At this stage in his career, I don’t think Mix is up to the physical challenge of manning the engine room at the WC level. And we saw in the Bosnia game how easily he was knocked off the ball while playing further up the field in Dempsey’s position. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a key contributor. I see him as the midfield spark sub, similar to Feilhaber’s role in the past. He’s not likely to have a positive impact on a full-speed international match from the start, but he is capable of making great plays against the other team’s defense once they are worn down a bit. That he’s a little slicker going forward than Sacha is probably why he has gotten called in and Sacha hasn’t.

      • Agreed, Mix at this point is best for the USMNT as an impact player coming in off the bench. He’s had his greatest success for the nats in that role, not only last night, but also in the Gold Cup.

  14. He plays his best games in big games against big opponents. Him and Bradley in our midfield gives us one of the best #6/#8 combos in the international game.

      • One of the best sounds legit to me. Top 10. Yes I think so. Clearly it is isn’t Schweinstieger and Ozil, I think it is behind Paulinho and Ramirez or whoever Brazil starts. However, I’d argue it is nearly on par with Gerard and Lampard at this point in their careers. I’d take it over Veloso and Moutinho at Portugal, it is certainly better than what any North American, Asian or African team has to offer. There are a handful of European and South American teams that have better. Our central midfield is strong and we are a top 20 team in the world, so this isn’t a stretch.

    • On paper, maybe, but in reality, their chemistry together hasn’t even demonstrated they’re the most effective CM pairing in the US pool.

      • This. Easily the two most talented CMs we have. Still I would be lying if every time we played I didn’t secretly hope for a (Beckerman, Edu, Evans)xBradley or a (CDM)xJones. The communication just doesn’t ever seem to fully develop between Jones and Bradley.

  15. Dude played a great game last night, but here’s what I don’t get. His role is essentially a midfield destroyer. When he’s paired with Bradley, a better player in all regards, his forays upfield usually consign Bradley to sitting deeper, which frustrates all of us. When paired with Beckerman, a subpar player to him, you know he was given the license to roam forward, yet he played one of the most positionally perfect games I’ve seen him play for the USMNT.

    If he played like that with Bradley, it’d be great.

    • Bradley plays deeper for Roma too. The actual tactics allow for them both to go forward, as long as one stays behind.

      Jones is a fantastic player, and although his partnership with Bradley took a year to materialize, it’s a great pairing now. We won’t go down the throats of every team at the World Cup, but with those two on form, I think we have a chance at beating any team.

      • Right, but we’ve shown that we are more incisive with Bradley pushed higher up the field (see what happened when Cameron sat back and let Bradley roam when Jones was out). Jones sits deep for Schalke and barely roams forward. I just found it interesting (pleasantly so) that when the situation changed, and the personnel allowed for him to roam, he stayed home more often than not.

        Nothing exemplifies that more than his catching up to Gio when he got behind Gonzalez.

      • I agree, completely. I’ve never been a huge fan of JJ, but last night, he was the best player on the field, I thought. And nothing captures that more than the moment you cited, when he was literally the last man alone in the box to make the tackle.

        Well done, Jermaine. We needed that last night.

    • To claim that Bradley is a better player in all regards is nonsense. Point blank.

      And you’re not the coach. Klinsmann is. And he wants them to trade of going forward and back.

      • It’s incredible really, how much nonsense he goes through. He has a bad game–when everyone else has a bad game–and all of a sudden he’s quite bad.

        Clint Dempsey puts together a string of awful performances and it’s “everyone shut up he’s Clint Dempsey!”

        Jones just chugs along playing Champions League football on the regular while he gets bashed over here.

        I think people miss out on how good he actually is. Jones has 3 caps with the Germany senior team. He was competing against players like Schweinsteiger, Muller, Khedira and they believed he warranted 3 separate run outs in friendlies.

        When people talk about benching him for Mix or Klejstan you just have to laugh.

      • Clint’s been awful lately, both for USMNT and for the Sounders. He probably didn’t deserve to start against Mexico. And anybody who thinks he missed that PK on purpose is kidding himself – Dempsey (and any other player) ALWAYS wants to put that away, and that’s a horrible, horrible miss.

        My issues with Jones aren’t about one bad game (against Costa Rica) – it’s about a consistent tendency to get himself out of position, opening holes that opponents exploit and punish the US.

      • Regarding the Dempsey miss…

        You are absolutely correct. There is NO WAY he meant to miss that shot. The guy has NEVER scored against Mexico and I am sure he wanted to put that in the back of the net to finally get a goal against our arch-rivals.

        If you think about it, it’s very likely that this was Clint’s last game ever against Mexico (unless we face them in the WC or have a friendly before the WC) cause I think it’s likely that LD, Clint, Beas, and Jones all retire after Brazil.

        I’m sure he wanted to bury that shot.

      • he didn’t just have a bad game–he’s had a run of bad games, and not just when ‘everyone else’ was having bad games.

        and you realize that his caps for germany were in friendlies a long time ago, right? i’m assuming you don’t think freddy adu is good enough to compete against michael bradley because he played in a couple of international friendlies.

        that said, he was amazing last night.

      • Right? It’s as if people just refuse to believe what they see in front of them. It’s become pure comedy, this “passionate dislike” of Jermaine Jones. But it’s just a meme, this “Jones must adapt his game so Bradley can shine” garbage. Might as well just call it what it is, right Chris? It’s garbage theory.

      • Ok, at some point, maybe you’ll take off your blinders and actually read my comments – none of what I’ve said could be categorized as “passionate dislike” of Jones. It’s criticism of the fact that he has typically not lived up to his potential for the USMNT. I’d love for him to do so, because he’s incredibly talented and athletic, but that doesn’t mean he gets a pass when his performances have been less than he’s capable of. Mexico was a good showing for him – hope he keeps it up. But as a USMNT/Jones fan, which you clearly are, why are you not demanding better from him than we’ve been getting on a consistent basis?

      • Chris,

        ‘Ok, at some point, maybe you’ll take off your blinders and actually read my comments – none of what I’ve said could be categorized as “passionate dislike” of Jones. It’s criticism of the fact that he has typically not lived up to his potential for the USMNT. “

        If that is seriously your criteria for judging a soccer player then you are bound for disappointment almost every time you watch any given USMNT player.

        “But as a USMNT/Jones fan, which you clearly are, why are you not demanding better from him than we’ve been getting on a consistent basis?”

        Probably because he is not foolish.
        If you are a true USMNT /Jones fan then what should make you happy is that the team does well and that Jones does well.
        In my book and maybe not yours the team has done well;, they have qualified for the World Cup, have a good shot at winning the HEX , have come up with more legitimate depth than most people thought they had and in general look about as good as they have at any time in the last few cycles.

        As for Jones he has been an ever present in JK’s lineups and is almost always on the field when the result really matters. This is the ultimate judgment on any player i.e. when everything is on the line does the coach trust him ? In Jones case the answer is clearly yes.

        Does Jones typically play to his potential ? Very few players ever do that.

        Clint Dempsey can go a l long time without doing that yet because he can still score goals on a regular basis, he remains an invaluable and productive player for the USMNT, perhaps the most productive.

        If Mikey typically played to his potential he would score 16-20 goals for Roma and once every three games for the US , would be Roma’s dominant midfielder and be the subject of transfer requests from all the big name clubs. So even the Nepotism kid could potentially play much better.

        The question to ask about Jones’ performance is did he do what the coach asked him to do and did he help his team do well? You don’t have to typically play up to your potential to answer that in the affirmative.

      • Well don’t get me wrong — I’ve liked JJ all along and also have not understood the level of dislike for him that is generally to be seen — but even if you think the Castrol Index is so wonderful and perfect, Jones at 601 pts and Dempsey at 599 pts is obviously an entirely negligible difference. One tiny tweak to the programming or analysis methods and suddenly Dempsey is the highest-rated American in Europe last year, rather than Jones…

    • Jones is never going to play a game like Beckerman and just shield the back four and play neat and tidy – and for good reason. Jones has the ability to change the game. He’s all action, and with that come positives and negatives. The positives usually exceed the negatives by a wide margin (and that’s why he is a regular for a Champions League club), but even last night he made a few bad decisions (two memorable ones at the end of the first half when he was gassed from terrorizing Mex all over the field). Those two questionable decisions resulted in a shot for Dos Santos and a yellow card for Bedoya, but as a result of Jones’ overall play Mex was shell-shocked and wilted. Mex players will have nightmares about Jones. He doesn’t just destroy plays while shielding the back four, Jones destroyed the belief of Mex’s heroes and with that the hearts and minds of generations of Mex fans. Subtle difference between Jones The Destroyer and Beckerman the “destroyer”-type midfielder, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      • Imposeible for a player as active as Jones to make the correct decision every time, while flying around trying to terrorize the other team, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

        On the play you reference, I believe Jones did not expect the ball to be played into the box because the service came from a player being guarded by two US defenders. Players can’t make every run, even the fittest ones have to choose which runs to make and which ones to skip. Arguably a bad decision by Jones not to run on that play, but we’re top of the hex and qualified, so there’s a pretty good chance that his decisions have been or correct more often than not.

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