Top Stories

Jones draws rave reviews after stellar showing vs. Ghana

Jermaine Jones

Photo by John Todd/


NATAL, Brazil — After the final whistle blew at Arena das Dunas on Monday night, Jermaine Jones made his way to the corner of the field where the American Outlaws were sitting. Jones celebrated the U.S. Men’s National Team’s hard-fought and dramatic 2-1 win over Ghana and then laid flat on the ground.

He was exhausted, having given his all and then some in one of his best performances in a U.S. jersey.

Jones delivered a monstrous performance in the first World Cup game of his career on Monday, hustling on both sides of the ball, breaking up several dangerous Ghana attacks and assisting on the goal that Clint Dempsey scored just 30 seconds in. The 32-year-old Jones was integral to the Americans’ ability to withstand the intense pressure Ghana applied for much of the 90 minutes en route to picking up three important points – plaudits should also go to the silent but steady Kyle Beckerman. Jones’ Man of the Match-worthy performance received no shortage of praise from his teammates.

“He played great, battled, in the air he won a lot of balls for us, got up and down,” said centerback Matt Besler. “He really worked his [butt] off.”

Added midfielder Michael Bradley: “Tilted off to the left and helping DaMarcus (Beasley) over there, he’s able to cover so much ground and use his athleticism and break up plays and he’s so important for us.”

Aside from what he did on the field, Jones also had a noteworthy moment for what he did not do on one particular play late in the first half. The hard-nosed midfielder known for his toughness and criticized at times by U.S. fans and media for his physicality was involved in a scuffle with Sulley Muntari near the left touch line that resulted in both players tumbling to the ground.

Muntari was unhappy with the challenge and proceeded to stand over and bark at Jones, who showed great veteran poise in putting his hands up and not reacting to the Ghanian midfielder’s aggression. Jones knew in that moment that any response could end with him heading for an early shower, and he did not want to put his team at risk or cut his first World Cup appearance short.

After all, Jones has worked his entire career and waited patiently to play in this tournament.

“For me, it’s like, I’ve said in the last days too, I try to catch everything that I can catch in these games,” said Jones, who added that he and Muntari were in randomly-selected doping tests together after the match. “It’s nice to play (in a) World Cup. This is for me the important stuff. I play it and try to take everything into me and try to make my best for the team.”

From the heavy defensive load that he had to carry to the nifty flick that allowed Dempsey to race in on goal and score, Jones gave it his all for the U.S.’s cause on Monday. The sight of him being at the point of exhaustion and laying on the corner following the match was emblematic of that.

“In that moment, when I heard the whistle, I was completely out of control of my body,” said Jones. “I was tired, yeah.”


  1. You know Bradley is playing subpar when even Alexi Lalas admits it.
    Now, the only reason Bradley’s play is being discussed here is because he traditionally RISES for the big games. He’s a tough, intense competitor. We’ve seen that for years. So his performance thus far goes against his history and our expectations. Hell, no I wouldn’t take him out. He will star again in this tournament. It’s terrific the US finally has other players, playing so well — God love you Jermaine Jones — that Bradley’s difficulties stand out at the moment. And Bedoya is essential to our getting out of group.

  2. Jermaine Jones is aware he is a yellow/red card risk. He has showed incredible poise and professionalism to shake this part of his game for the benefit of the team in the WC. Jermaine Jones, you got the heart and respect of many in the USA AND Germany. Your effort will live in hearts and minds of many for a longtime.

    With that being said, it may be wise to go to a 4-5-1 with two DMF performing as windshield wipers in front of the defense. This formation would allow Jones and Bradley playing in that role. We would need two wingers with decent speed and perhaps Mix in the middle with Dempsey on top. Players can change, but the formation maximizes the midfield where we need more possession going forward. Continue playing compact in defense and offense. The fundamental game still needs to be played.

    • 4-2-3-1 to help with possession. With possession our central mid fielder can perform as a withdrawn forward and get near the penalty area too with the forward. With little possession we need to counter on the wings and that is where speed could really help the USMNT…I would not plan to only attack or counter attack…we need to do both when the opportunity is there. Portugal will not let us do what we want. We have to play well off the ball going forward and back to make a difference against Portugal.

  3. Keep in mind, as you wonder what 2010 would have been if JJ had been healthy, that he was a serial card accumulator in those days. Discipline has been an integral part of his transformation. Who would have thought, four years ago, that he could have played the way he did yesterday and *not* at least taken a yellow or conceded a penalty?

  4. Id go with a 4-2-3-1


    If Besler can’t go i feel confident in Brooks. I might even move FJ to outside mid and Cameron over to RB since without Jozy, solid wing play will be important

  5. the guy is a full on stud. must continue to monster it up out there

    US has excellent chance against Portugal. Score first and the pressure might very well smother them

  6. Jones is excelling in this role where he has freedom to surge forward with the ball and roam defensively. It’s the best of both worlds for him. Jurgen needs to keep this in mind when he sets his lineup for Portugal. Without Jozy I’m guessing the lineup looks like this.


    • I see your second one as more likely. I think JK will do what he can do keep that diamond of Beck-Jones-Bedoya-Bradley together because that is the combo that is basically working. However, the transition to attack will continue to be a problem because as we all know Atlidore’s best backup now is Dempsey, which is not ideal in the sense you could weaken two positions by doing that. I could see Mix getting sort of free role to roam between Dempsey and the diamond to find gaps and set up Dempsey. But Mix’s finishing is not exactly convincing so I could also see Aron getting another shot up top to keep Dempsey in his more familiar spot. There are just no perfect options without having a like-for-like backup to Jozy…. arrgh.

  7. “Muntari was unhappy with the challenge and proceeded to stand over and bark at Jones”

    What was Muntari unhappy about? Jones feet hit him after Muntari knocked him off of his feet from behind? Muntari took Jones out from behind or from the side/behind. Muntari was lucky he did not get a card. Jones showed self control, but Muntari was the one who received the greatest benefit of the doubt on that play.

    • count me as one who thought jermaine swung his foot around at muntari’s head. watching a replay, i’m not so sure. but if i was muntari? there wouldn’t be a doubt in my mind.

      • Jones definitely swung his feet at Muntari’s head after Muntari violently tackled him. I don’t blame him for doing it.

  8. ————-Clint—?———-
    Suzi—–JJ——M.B——-F. Johnson

    • or Fabian at left back and Chandler at right back, which I wouldn’t mind seeing, as Beasley was poor at best, and it will allow Chandler to try an contain Ronaldo and free up Fabian to attack on the other side.

      • I wish I had your confidence in Chandler. He starts in the Bundesliga, but he looked a little sloppy in the warm up matches. I would really love to see us win against Portugal, and I think that means we need a solid back line.

  9. imagine when he and bradley are both having monster games at the same time…! we could beat just about anyone. hopefully on sunday.

  10. I am surprise no one is mentioning Bedoya. He was great. Not better than Jones but very solid.

    Howard was great. Zusi did his thing and Brooks came up HUGE. Cameron showed his class. He is without a doubt the best thing to happen to the back line since Eddie Pope.

    Why are people now hating on Jones? Too bad I can’t rematch the game. There must be something I missed. I thought he was clearly MOTM.

    • Other than the comment on Bedoya, which is only because I hadn’t considered his performance, this s an excellent post.

    • That’s what I’m wondering too. I watch soccer every week, and I watched the Ghana game. It was clear that Jones was pivotal for the USA, and really kept us in the game.

  11. was just able to re-watch the first half again, and two things come to mind:

    1) i think bradley’s poor game and jones’s great game were causally connected. ghana keyed in on bradley as the focal point for the us. they constantly had someone on him, and swarmed him as soon as he got the ball. now, he didn’t play well even when he had more time on the ball. but it seems clear that it freed up more space for jones, bedoya, and dempsey; and jones certainly made the most of it.

    2) beasley was poor. he got beat repeatedly by a decent (though promising) winger in atsu. he also got lucky in that ghana’s wingers seemed to be told to cross it into the middle constantly (i don’t know why ghana seemed to think we’d be weak in the air). here, jones also did a good job tracking back and covering. hopefully besler’s good to go against portugal.

    • I agree- the Ghana winger could have blown by DMB and taken the ball along the end line all the way to the near post if he wanted (would have been a huge problem for US to mark effectively against quicker Ghana attackers)-instead he booted it into the box

      • Atsu couldn’t go to the endline because DMB was cheating outside. Look at his positioning on many of his 1-v-1 moments. It’s almost comical how far outside the ball-to-goal line he is. That had to be a tactical decision. The only way that positioning makes sense is if you’re expecting help from the inside, and the consequence if that help is late in arriving is a cutback or an early cross.

        I expect the reason Atsu was subbed was because he was constantly settling for that early cross.

      • it was the game plan. There was consistently help if Atsu cut inside too much, and Beasley was cheating to the end line. For all of it, I don’t think our defense was really a problem; our offense was. I don’t know why people aren’t worry about that.

      • I think he was subbed off because he was gassed. How many long balls did Ghana send over Beasley and have Atsu chase them down. By about the 60th minute there was very little longs balls on that side of the field.

    • Very true, however, it didn’t help that he was specifically targeted from the get go. On the plus side, the second half was much better from him, not perfect, but if say a 5.5 or 6, compared to a 3 for the first half.

      • (that’s if you were referring to beasley. i certainly don’t think bradley is a weak link, although i wouldn’t be surprised if teams continue to target him.)

    • One thing people forget is how much space Donovan creates for others. You put Donovan on the field and players have to worry about him AND Michael Bradley and suddenly you have more space.

  12. I don’t get it. JJ tried real hard. Didn’t lose his cool other than one back heel to the head off a rough tackle. Ran alot. We had almost no possession this match. This comes down to JJ and Bradley. Everyone concedes bradley had a bad match but JJ wasn’t much better. Yes, he had an assist. Kind of. But that may have been one of a dozen completed passes (not including back passes) over the entire match for JJ. Not sure of the exact number but it wasn’t many. And as a former keeper myself, I spent half the match yelling at him to step up on players in our third, begging him to help Bease cut down on the crosses… I mean this was a midfield diamond… meaning JJ was playing the left … and that side was as sieve all day. Yes I am sure we would rather crosses than them waltzing down the middle… but thats why Beckerman had such a good match. They couldnt do the latter. But they sure as heck had no trouble whipping the ball in from the right… almost exclusively (thank you Bedoya for covering your side well). To say this was Jones’ best match is absurd… he was infinitely better against Nigeria.

    • and for the record if we give nani that much 1v1 time alone on the wing he is going to absolutely destroy DMB… god forbid he and number 7 switch sides for 5 minutes.

      • agreed. although (see my comment below) i thought jones did a better job helping out than you did, apparently. 🙂

    • The problem is that Bradley had a truly terrible match which was compounded by Jozy being gone and Clint being injured.

      Jones had to do all that running and had to make the offense happen because Bradley couldn’t even complete a simple pass to an open. outside winger sometimes.

      Jones did far more on offense than Bradley this game including that simple pass to Dempsey on which he scored.

      • I agree wholeheartedly, until the last 10 minutes bradley was terrible. i think everyone agrees JJ was better than mikey (who thought id ever say that). but that doesnt mean JJ was “good”. he was just better than the worst 1 or 2 players on our side (pretty clearly DMB and MB).

      • Hold it… Is your complaint that crosses from DMB’s side came, or where they came from? It looked like DMB’s job over there was to keep the winger from going down the touch line and crossing. He did that, for the most part. Inside help to prevent the cutback or the early cross seemed to be JJ or KB’s job.

      • My complaint is how easily the crosses came in. How often, how uncontested. A better team punishes that. Yes, normally inside help would be JJ’s job as the left mid (not KB’s barring a break down). That’s how it’s supposed to work. DMB was on an island running backwards way too often.

      • dude, the GAME plan was to make Ghana cross from the left side since they were overloading that side with 2v1 battles. Beasley was not great, but he forced them to cross nonstop. they sent in more crosses than any other team so far by a big margin. and they hardly completed any of those.

      • The game plan was obviously not to let them go up the middle. GHANA’s gameplan was to go up the other wing. You know… the whole reason they put asamoah (clearly not a normal LB choice) at LB. They didnt wind up going with their game plan because we made it just that easy. That isnt on JUST DMB or JJ… but it’s definitely on both of them. JJ tends to tuck in both offensively and defensively for obvious reasons. With Bradley typically higher up the field that leaves beasely much more strung out than it Fab is with Bedoya.

        Just because OUR game plan is to force them to the wings doesnt mean we intend to let them walk around us for easy crosses. DMB was out there alone, if it was a better player we would have been dealing with something more dangerous than random floated bad crosses.

      • yes, it was. Howard, Bradley, Beckerman, Besler, and JK all said as much after the game too…

        it was obvious to me and everyone i was with. this is not to say we intended Ghana to get 38 crosses in, that is probably too many for comfort, but it WAS the game plan.

        force them wide and not allow them to cut in.

      • Lol. sorry I will trust people who actually know soccer and the actual match stats over your obvious expertise. Lol, I mean good grief.

      • Not sure if this is in response to me… but anyone saying Jones is MotM is doing so in SPITE of the match stats… on that kind of guts and determination USA USA USA scale we use after matches like this. Thats fine if thats what you are measuring… but the match stats are there for anyone to see. They dont speak highly of JJ’s match. At all.

      • stats don’t always tell the whole story, something that someone who knows the game and sport for that matter would know! It seems your hating on JJ just cause when everyone else, including REAL analyst, are saying he was our best player! Let it go son!

  13. From a former Jones detractor, I am happy to be proven wrong so dramatically. He’s one of my favorite players now. Totally awesome performance.

    On a day Bradley gave us nothing, JJ, the Wolf, the cleaner, took the game on his back. Go USA! Beat Portugal, a win and we’re through

  14. Really happy for Jones. At 32, this is likely his only World Cup, and he made the most of it. He was one of the few US players not bothered by Ghana’s athleticism and not overwhelmed by the moment. He covered a ton of ground, and he and Beckerman were the main reasons Ghana kept taking off-target shots from 30 yards out.

    • Yeah it’s good for him. Glad he showed well. Not sure it was as stellar as people are saying but I think most people were shocked by his calm and professionalism where he has a penchant for being a liability. Still, maybe MOM sure.

      I do think that it shows that 32 is not too old and Donovan would have definitely changed that game for the better. I highly doubt we would have struggled to win and maintain possession. And I think AJ would have been fed the passes that would have helped him not be so invisible.

      • really? Donovan isn’t a ball playing central mid and has played in many, many games where we have struggle to maintain the ball. The simple fact is we don’t have that midfield player like a Pirlo, Xavi, Sneijder, etc, and Bradley, as much as I like him, isn’t it.

      • It was. Just in case you trust your expertise over the match stats, you might wan to take a look. Amazing.

  15. My concern is that it is not realistic to expect JJ, Beckerman, and Bradley to all play 270 minutes (and hopefully more), especially given the weather conditions, the likelihood that all three will cover tons of space in each game, and the game in Manaus.

    If Besler is healthy, does it make sense to start Besler-Brooks in the center, allowing Cameron to start a match in the midfield? For instance, you could start Cameron for Beckerman, and allow Beckerman to come in for Jones as a sub if we have something to protect. That gives them both a chance for a rest. I can’t see Jurgen taking Bradley off at any point (though I know others here disagree), but if he does, Mixx is more a like for like sub there I think.

    • What about moving Cameron to RB and allowing Fab Johnson to move up to Mid field? With Altidore down, we might need F. Johnson’s attacking play more than his D.

      • given cameron was a stud, besler is a question and the alternative would leave us brooks and gonzalez staring, id say no chance. id think chandler in on the right if we wanted to move fab up, but given how much good work ale puts in as the right wing, and the fact that klinsi likes the dmid trio, im not sure i see it happening (it would be fab for bedoya or… jones?)

    • Thats exactly what I was thinking but if Jozy can’t play we can make it work by going back to a 4-5-1
      Beckerman- Jones
      Beasley-Besler/Brooks- Cameron- Johnson

      This secures our outside backs and our Middle will be pretty strong.

      • This is good. Dempsey’s not a good target forward, but he still can scratch out a goal or two if he has adequate midfield support.

  16. Amazing game by Jones. If he keeps playing like that I’ll take my chances and risk leaving him in late if he has a yellow. We need more players like jones and Dempsey. His champions league quality really showed yesterday.

  17. this was the JJ USMNT fans have been waiting for since he declared in 2009. On what could have been with JJ instead of Clark in the last Ghana game…

    he was flat out awesome on defense, basically acting as a protective big brother to Beasley’s little brother act of getting pantsed and his lunch money taken…can Beasley’s performance be described as anything but terrible? He was falling down unguareded, turning the ball over unguarded, showed no courage going forward with the ball-which allowed Ghana to press him and turn the ball over…. If the best that can be said about DMB is that “well, at least they did not score off any of the dozens of wide open crosses they served from his side” what does that say…

    As terrible as Nani can be relative to EPL standards, he is going to destroy DMB, unless JJ and a winger are there to help. I’m thinking JK goes even more defensive vs Portugal to help cover the wings

    Bedoya Bradley Zusi
    Jones Beckerman
    ???? Brooks Cameron FJ

      • Yedlin won’t play on the left, but it is feasible Johnson would get moved to the left. Ronaldo vs Yedlin will not be pretty. Johnson is the only one that has a decent chance of somewhat containing him. Then we lose Johnson in the attack, likely, too.

    • Beasley wasn’t all-world or anything but blaming him for all the crosses is absurd. The game plan was to concede crosses and hope cameron and besler could handle things.

      The sheer number of crosses was a product of our inability to relieve pressure for the final 80 minutes.

      • And if the usmnt are going to concede a ton of aerial balls into the box, they damn-well better concede them from beasley’s side.

        Crosses from the fabian’s side mean beasley has to defend in the air, something he is, ahem, not fantastic at.

        In other words all this criticism of beasley is actually evidence of a pretty solid defensive team strategy: invite the ghana attack into the gaping space ahead of DMB and clear their hopeful service.

      • it would be one thing if beasley was sitting back and letting them cross the ball in. sure, i would chalk that up to a gameplan (and one i’d agree with).

        it’s a completely different thing to have beasley get beat repeatedly by the weakest winger we’ll face. that’s not a game plan, that’s an incompetent fullback.

      • i didn’t say ‘beaten to the end line’, i said ‘beaten’. a better winger would’ve done that, or just cut straight to the box to take besler 1v1. still don’t understand why atsu kept crossing so early (or crossing so much at all), but i’m glad he did.

      • Most teams know Beasley is a weak link so they tried to expose his side. Beasley showed well and Ghana blew so many passes, crosses, and shots.

      • Kind of funny al the worry about DB. Did awesome work. Yes did not single handedly stop all the 2 v 1. I keep forgetting…we won right?

    • I can’t believe the MLS soccer guys sometimes. They troll on a regular basis and/or succumb to group-think with regularity.

      They have obvious biases.

      • Are you kidding? The US were pretty abysmal. Apart from a couple moments of excellence against a team that dominated us with even worse play than us, no player deserved a rating over 7 maybe. That is stretching it. We were under severe pressure and a better team wouldn’t have had so many unforced errors and incomplete passes and off target shots. We would have been Portugal 2.0.

      • So wait….. a defensive back line that bosses the air and allows only 3 shots on goal despite being under constant pressure deserves no praise?

      • In order: Jones, Cameron, Beckerman, Brooks, Besler, Johnson, Beasley had very good games. In spite of owning the ball, Ghana did very little with it for a good portion of the game. That takes HUGE effort and BALLS from the players I listed previously. Particularly in those conditions.

      • i agree Increase. they used to regularly say Jones was a crap player and Beckerman was SO much better. i was a fan of Matt Doyle but he made it a point to denounce Jones. luckily Jones shut him up and Doyle is giving him props at least.

    • right? what’s even more ridiculous is the link to that article on Twitter had Jones has the #1 option for MOTM. doesn’t make any sense…

    • Sorry, but anyone who gave Jermaine Jones a 5.5 for the Ghana game is an idiot, blind or both. I don’t care how much those experts may know about soccer, if you didn’t see Jones value on Monday then I really have to question what you are looking for in a player.

      Jones was “The Man”, and he more than anyone kept us alive between Dempsey’s early strike, Howard’s heroics and Brooks’ fatal head shot.

      That aside, I am still trying to decide what was more priceless, the look on Brooks’ face after he scored, or the look of anguish and disbelief from the Ghanian defenders.

    • If Jones can keep his level of play where it was for Ghana then he will be world class. Always liked him, and was really happy when he chose to play for the USA. He just needs consistency.

  18. I thought Jones has showed lately exactly why Klinsmann has been so high on him for so long. Putting Beckerman in front of the back 4 and letting Jones run rampant to his heart’s content has really allowed Jones to put his stamp on the game.

  19. Never a big Jones fan, but dude was a beast yesterday. Can’t wait to see him punish Germany. Makes you wonder how we would have done if he didn’t get injured in 2010.

    • What’s not to love about Jones? He’s a pitbull, and sometimes lacks discipline, but most teams need that type of player.

      • Before his role was to be that pit bull, provide cover in the back, and make safe careful passes out of the back. There were plenty of times he surges forward like he was maradona. He lacked discipline in positioning, passing, and tackling IMO. But when he was disciplined and smart we saw yesterday how frickin good he can be.

      • And that Robbie Findley – whooooooo! The man sweats awesomeness. And he’s so fast, too! It’s a crime he’s not on the 2014 team.

    • I’m with you, I’ve always felt he was too much of a loose cannon – but he was absolutely immense yesterday. Beast mode.

    • Good point on Jones not playing in South Africa. Ricardo Clark is a very good player but Jones showed his class yesterday.

    • Agreed. And this has largely been ignored: Bradley has played awful the last two games. If he was anyone else people would be calling for him to get benched. He’s too good to bench, but it’s something to keep an eye on. People thought he’d crush in the top of a diamond. So far he has looked completely overwhelmed.

      Jones is our Kraken. The guy is insane. “Release the Kraken!”

      • Wait. Bradley played awful these past two games? Yes, he did against Ghana. But you’re serious in saying he played poorly against Nigeria? Wow.

      • I think he was relating to Bradley’s game against Azerbaijan rather than his game against Nigeria. We can’t afford this type of performance against Portugal and Germany, which have clinical finishers. If he has the same types of turnovers against these teams as he had against Ghana, we will be punished. Everyone, not just Bradley, would need to bring their A game.

      • Yeah, the anti-Bradley thing is ridiculous. The guy has a sub-par showing and you’d think he personally snapped Altidore’s hamstrings himself (wait… he did launch that long ball Altidore was tracking – let me rephrase!). I believe MB will come good and I don’t question him at all. He regularly, without fail, puts it all out there. The hate is just so overboard its ludicrous.

      • relax, no one is being anti-Bradley. but like everyone else, when he does not play well, people will discuss that.

      • I wonder how it is that Bradley had a “subpar” game? Could it have anything to do with Ghana’s midfield and them specifically looking to shut him down? Sure a couple of errant passes, but many more that he connected, and an amazing pass to Jozy that could have been a goal, but Jozy pulled his hamstring. Dempsey wasn’t the same after breaking his nose and AJ was awful, and those were the player’s the Michael had to sync with attacking. So please, he was pretty solid given the circumstances, but made a couple mistake that are uncharacteristic of him. Not a terrible game.

    • he should’ve put his hands up and around Muntari’s neck….the rest is up to him.
      Yes, German Jones was a beast. Bradley was a pussycat. If those two can get on the same page, we’re going all the way…to the semis. PS. from a comical angle, I would’ve loved to have seen Pepe vs Jones

    • I was actually wondering, just a bit, about the doping thing. They call it “random” but I doubt it was…Jones was such an absolute beast, and his workrate so exceptional, I’ll admit the thought of EPO had crossed my mind. Lance Armstrong left me a bit cynical on that….

      I have always wondered how prevalent EPO use is, in soccer. Surely soccer players are as aware as bike riders that the ability to run forever would give somebody one heckuva leg up….

      That clenbuterol thing the Mexican team got caught with, by the way, was explained away with “tainted beef” – which is the same excuse former Armstrong teammate Alberto Contador used when he got caught himself – and I’d say it was about as BS as Contador’s explanation. Clenbuterol is good for, among other things, muscle recovery – meaning, if you’re battered, bruised, and tired after an exhausting match or grueling training session, you wake up the next day in much, much better shape….

      • Jones seems to have gone to another level. I hope he can maintain that in the Portugal game.

Leave a Comment