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SBI Reader Poll: Should Klinsmann move Jones back to midfield?

Jermaine Jones USA World Cup 07012014

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports


Should Jurgen Klinsmann keep Jermaine Jones in central defense, and continue the experiment he began last fall, or has the recent surge of U.S. Men’s National Team central defender options made that move less necessary?

This was the subject I delved into in my latest piece for, which I use to make the case that Klinsmann should move Jones back to midfield.

Jones moved to centerback for the USMNT last fall, and the results were a bit mixed. He looked capable of playing the position, but it was clear he A) wasn’t a big fan of the move and B) there would be growing pains.

Things have changed within the central defender pool since then though. Ventura Alvarado has emerged, John Brooks has excelled in the Bundesliga and Michael Orozco has put together another strong season in Mexico while impressing with the USMNT.

Give my story a read and then let us know what you think. Do you think Klinsmann should move Jones back to the midfield for the USMNT?

Cast your vote after the jump:

[polldaddy poll=8818465]
Which way did you vote? What centerback tandem would you like to see at the Gold Cup? Still see Jones as a starter for the USMNT?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Let’s be honest here, JK will not solve the centerback’s problems by moving Jones there. We have like four to five mediocre ones (Besler Brooks Cameron Gonzalez Alvarado) right now that can alternate and maybe the right formula is found so that we don’t give up late goals as often. Jones belongs in the midfield behind Mr. Bradley, or along Mr. Bradley depending on the formation used. This team must play Jones Bradley and Dempsey all the minutes of this GC. Mexican team, if A team, will be scary.

  2. Yes he is the BEST midfielder we have. Jones and Dempsey should keep their spots until someone comes along that can displace them.

      • Hyndman & Zelalem may well both be in the 23 for Russia, but they will not be the starting CM pairing in either a 4-4-2 or any other formation unless all other CM’s are out injured (Bradley, Williams, Morales, Diskerud, Cameron, Kitchen, etc).

  3. Love JJ and he was our best player at the world cup.
    That said, he’s been injured since and was at the wrong side of 30 already. time to break in the younger guys

  4. JJ has the tools… could have been a fantastic CB given sufficient time to acclimate. That said, between the injury, where he plays with NE, lack of time there in the past, there is no way he can be ready to fill that position for GC. With the depth we seem to have at the position, there is simply no need to pull what reeks of a stop-gap, fly by the seat of ones pants move. Particularly at the cost of an outstanding opportunity at developing skill, rapport between young talent at CB with the potential to be a very capable group over long term.

    So….. in the midfield it is where he has been huge for the US last cycle. Have to see where he is at once he gets back in form- if he’s on a roll, separated himself from the pack, let him go to maximize our GC chances. Beyond that…. time to phase him out. Fortunately, we are starting to see signs of depth, the gap is closing fast. All things being equal, Jermaine hasn’t clearly re-established himself, I’d prefer to see a player who realistically can fill the spot in Russia get a run out now.

      • Yeah, thanks….. just read that after the post. Well….. if he gets regular time there, it could alter the picture. Is Gonsalves supposed to be out long term? I thought he didn’t look too bad there at all defensively/marking, interplay with team mates considering the circumstances and showed some flashes of what I’d think JK has in mind putting him there with distribution etc. Going to be interesting!

  5. JJ is a midfielder. I don’t care how old he is, he should play that position until someone proves that they are better than he is. At that point and only then, he should be respectfully moved aside.

  6. Midfield? Jermaine is a champions level player, and he needs to continually challenge himself to perform at a higher level. He’s not in Europe so I need to play him out of position in the back of the field. It’s all about thinking where he can contribute to the team and be a valuable player.

    Signed, JK

  7. I actually thought he was fine, all things considered, as a CB (plenty of our regular CB’s miss assignments too), so I don’t know that I’d vote for an option that says “the center back experiment wasn’t working.” That said, I come down tentatively on the side of moving him back to midfield. Because the CBs are our last line of defense, I really prefer young, athletic guys back there — they might make mistakes but their recovery ability can make up for it and at least they won’t get outright beat to a spot due to lack of mobility. Jones could certainly be a capable CB (he’s got a much higher soccer IQ than people seem to give him credit for), but the odds are high that he’s going to lose mobility over time. Plus, playing guys like Brooks, Alvarado, and even Gonzalez (who’s not young anymore, but will still be under 30 at the next World Cup) now will give them enough exposure that they won’t be as green by the time qualifying starts and will be downright seasoned by the next World Cup. If one of them breaks down or doesn’t develop, Besler (who’s currently better than both of them) can be easily plugged in and Orozco may be an option as well. Jones isn’t the best longterm option at CB and we don’t really need him as an insurance policy when Besler and likely Orozco can already play that role.

    Meanwhile, in midfield, Jones is still close enough to the last World Cup that he could be our best field player again at the Gold Cup. And as he advances in age, Klinsmann can just instruct him to settle back into a Beckerman-like role (unlike a lot of people here, I still believe that Jones ventures forward largely because Klinsmann tells him to play both ways, not due to a lack of discipline). And even an aging Jones would present a great model for Diskerud and Danny Williams to follow as they push to take on more prominent roles. He’s got a ton to offer as a midfielder, both immediately and as a guy who sets the tone for players who will come after him. Hopefully that’s where Klinsmann puts him.

    • And just to be clear, in arguing that he should move back to midfield, I’m still assuming that, barring some tremendous individual training on his part, he’ll be phased out by the midpoint of this cycle’s qualifying. Assuming that we keep the diamond as our primary formation (and Klinsmann seems to like it), I’m looking at Danny Williams to eventually take over the base role and some combination from among Fabian Johnson/Diskerud/Bedoya to take over the left and right sides. For now, I’d have Jones start on one side of the diamond and, over time, move him back to the base depending on how much longer Beckerman can play and how quickly Williams develops. From there, he can shift back to the bench and eventually off the roster (but perhaps into a coaching position? It’d be great to keep him around).

  8. I’ll admit, I do love me some Jermaine Jones, and I think he’s much better at CB than people give him credit for. However, I said move him to midfield.

    In regards to playing him in the midfield, I think if Klinsmann is going to do it he needs to go one of two routes:

    1. The World Cup version. Don’t even bother trying to contain him – play Jones on either side of a diamond and unleash dude on the opposition. The question is, how much longer can he do that for?

    2. Reel him in and play him as a #6. Whoever our CB pairing is, there’s a good chance they’re gonna need time to adjust to each other, and giving them a stay at home defensive midfielder as cover would help with that. There’s Beckerman, and there’s Danny Williams (who played a hell of a game against Arsenal), but I think Jermaine could be an absolute beast in that role. Break up plays, pick out passes, and just generally get in people’s grills and under their skin. The question is, can he be reeled in? Now that he’s spent some time at CB, and now that Klinsmann has clearly shown a preference for playing Bradley higher up the field, I think it’s a lot more likely than it used to be.

    • good comment. can’t wait to see how he looks post injury in MLS which imo should lead to this decision. all in all he is still our best attacking CM (beside Bradley), CDM and CB

      as you point out we have pretty good depth at CB and CDM so I see the argument there but I can see him excelling between or just in front of two CB’s

  9. As fans we should be focused on supporting moves that will position us to succeed best in the next WC.

    I believe the most important thing he can do towards this goal is play CB in the Gold Cup. Besides the toughness and grit, he is very good with the pinpoint long ball. No one else provides this combination of skill.

    Keep in mind winning the Gold Cup punches the teams ticket to Confed Cup. After gold Cup give the young guys a chance at taking his position from him.

    I would have voted no but I didn’t like the explanation given for a no vote so I abstained.

    • I disagree. The time will come for us to worry about the World Cup, but it’s not right now.

      Right now we need to worry and plan for:

      1. 2015 Gold Cup
      2. 2016 Copa America
      3. 2017 Confed Cup
      4. 2018 World Cup

      Once you scratch one off the list, then you start thinking about/planning for the next one on the list.

  10. JJ should be in the MF until he is no longer the best in the pool at that position then he should retire gracefully. There is no value in keeping him around to keep him around but there is value in wringing out the last bit of talent that he has right now because we have a lot of competitive tournaments on the near horizon.

    As for the CB position I think that we have a nice mix of youth and experience that will carry us through all the way to the world cup.

    • Agreed 100%.

      Look at someone like Nagbe. He comes in, do you still have Bradley at attacking mid?
      Not me. I move him back again.

      Not saying that everyone has to agree with my player selection, but there are many scenerios in a VERY deep pool, where the US doesn’t have to say, great player, let’s find a place, even if it is out of place, for him.

      • Nagbe is untested and therefore unproven in international matches. Don’t mistake “deep” for competitive. There is a lot of competition for spots, but difference makers are few and far between still.

  11. I said yes, but not because the experiment wasn’t working, but because his talents are wasted in the back. He is at his best – like in the World Cup – marauding up the field. It may drive purists crazy because he leaves space behind him, but it’s damn hard to stop.

  12. If he would be willing to accept the role, I think he would be a great late match substitute in midfield, to bring energy and toughness if needed. But I think there are better central defenders emerging, so I don’t see him having a spot there going forward.

    • If anyone thinks that JJ isn’t still our best cm then you don’t know the position! Sorry but no one has the passing range, grit, intelligence or high level playing experience that he has in the pool(bradley is a close second)! Age is not a deterrent for him nor the US team and we are best served keeping him around and in the lineup as a midfielder! True, there are some younger options starting to step their level up but not to the point where they are over taking Jermaine. some of these same people were calling for JJ to be sat down prior to the WC and all he did was go out there and be hands down our best player, which was not even a full year ago!

  13. Jones?.. we haven’t seen him play since February kind of an odd time to bring it up.

    if he comes back to New England and is scoring goals, leading the attack and playing midfield then maybe bring up this discussion.

    if i had to guess how a healthy JJ would be used this summer I would say that he plays sweeper in a 5-3-2 or CM in a 4-5-1; a bit of both depending on the game.

  14. No… Jones shouldn’t be part of the National team at all any more unless he can beat out a defender… he is not Pirlo, and will not be on the field as a MF in 2018… or 2016. so replacements need to be found… but we will always have his world cup strike to savor!

    • completely agree. This keeps happening in the us system, coaches have a hard time phasing out players because of past form and favoritism. the reality is that jones and dempsey are getting to old to build a team around them.

    • Why? He’s 31, less than a year since he covered more ground than almost any other player and was clocked as one of the fastest players in the WC. Has he lost that speed and stamina in the last nine months?

    • I agree that replacements to Jones (and Beckerman) must be found. However, he (they) still have a value to the team Right Now for this summer’s Gold Cup. One of Jones or Beckerman will make the Gold Cup as a CM…which one will be the question. Than 1 of the younger options (Williams/Morales/Kitchen) will be brought along for seasoning.

      Bradley, Mix, Jones/Beckerman, Williams/Morales/Kitchen


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