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Jones determined to contribute to USMNT after serving one-match ban

Jermaine Jones watched on as the U.S. Men’s National Team pummeled Honduras on Friday. He watched his teammates dice the Honduras defense, watched as the U.S. all but recovered from November’s nightmare to seal a historic World Cup qualifying win.

But, throughout his career, Jones has made it quite clear that he isn’t one for watching. He’s not one for the sidelines or the luxury box, not one for enjoying the ride as others do the legwork. The USMNT midfielder felt overwhelming joy for his teammates’ efforts in a 6-0 demolition, but he also felt the conflicting frustration produced by the fact that he wasn’t a part of it.

On Tuesday, Jones is eligible to return to the USMNT squad. He’s free from the shackles of suspension, the misery of being excluded from Friday’s World Cup qualifying win. Panama looms, and Jones is ready to play his part.

“I think from both sides,” Jones said. “I was happy that we won the game, and on the other side, it’s really not nice. Now, I’m happy to be back. I’m looking forward to that game. It’s a really important game.

“For me, it’s always a pleasure to play for this country,” he added. “Every time I step on the field, it’s something special. I’m happy to be back now and I’m looking forward to the game against Panama.”

Jones is likely to play some role on Tuesday as the USMNT faces off with Panama in their fourth Hexagonal clash. Head coach Bruce Arena made Jones a part of the camp despite his suspension while leaving Timmy Chandler in Germany to serve his. It was a sign that Arena still has high plans for Jones for Tuesday night’s clash.

Jones’ contributions will almost certainly come in the middle. Friday’s victory saw Sebastian Lletget take the field, and shine in the process, scoring a goal early to kickstart the USMNT rout. However, an injury derailed his match just several minutes in, forcing Arena to reshape the central midfield for Tuesday.

Jones is likely to jump in, giving him the chance to return to the World Cup qualifying push. His game remains unchanged since the day he first put on a USMNT jersey in 2010. He brings a youthful energy and pursuit to the game as he outhustles and outmuscles opponents, valuable characteristics for the rigors of CONCACAF play.

Still, for as good as his physical game is, Jones has embraced what’s apparent: his time is winding down. There won’t be many more nights like Tuesday, many more chances to represent and contribute to his national team. It’s far from time to reflect, but that doesn’t mean that Jones doesn’t feel the sense of urgency that comes with admitting his career’s mortality,

“I always said I wanted to make my dream come true and go to one more World Cup again and maybe, I think, retire from the national team,” Jones said. “To make it happen that this country goes, it’s not only a big goal for me. For Tim (Howard), for Clint (Dempsey), for all of the guys that maybe have their last shot with this World Cup in Russia.”

Tuesday’s match, Jones says, will be a tough one. Conditions in Panama will be difficult. The heat will play a role, the field may not be ideal and Panama, following a loss of their own, will be out to prove themselves. The U.S. can’t expect another 6-0 cakewalk, even if they’ve had success in Panama in the past.

For Jones, the idea is keeping perspective. He’s been through this process before as he helped lead the U.S. to and through the 2014 World Cup. Like Dempsey and Howard, Jones is a steady and calm presence in the locker room, very much opposed to his frenetic and energy-filled game between the lines.

The key, the midfielder says, is keeping calm and focusing on the task at hand. He’s glad to be back and he once again feels the rush that comes in the hours leading to a World Cup qualifier, but Jones knows what lies ahead and the challenges that he and his teammates will face on Tuesday night.

“We won one game,” Jones said. “We can talk after the Panama game. If we have six points, we can talk, but it’s way too early to say we’re already done for Russia.

“When everyone is focused and on the same page, we have a good team, a good quality, but you have to show it every time, not only once.”


  1. I don’t think anyone would question Jones’s heart/desire to continue playing at the international level. What does come under question is…
    1) His ability to partner with Bradley effectively,
    2) His ability to play multiple games with a quick turn around.
    3) His ability to stay healthy.

    As the next generation of players gains experience (Acosta, Lletget, Nagbe, Gooch, Hyndman) I’d expect Jones to become more and more of a depth option. They may not bring the same physical intensity as Jones, but they may actually develop a better in game chemistry with Bradley than Jones did. Especially if Arena continues to favor a 4-1-3-2 formation.

    Jones & Dempsey both still have a role to play with this team, but that role may be as super-subs in the not so distant future.

    • One thing I’ve always wondered about is this critique of Jones, that he doesn’t have good chemistry with Bradley. It’s always stated as if it is JJ’s fault and problem, never the other way around. First the problem was that he kept MB from going forward enough and now it’s because MB just prefers being a deep-lying mf on the bottom of a diamond. But, hell, part of being a professional player is figuring out how to play with a variety of teammates in a variety of formations. Altidore needs the same kind of special treatment… he just can’t do his thing unless he has someone to run off of, or whatever. I don’t really understand that kind of deference, personally. MB hasn’t earned that kind of deference anymore than JJ has imho. As for the young guys, bring ’em to training. The minute they can out perform JJ, put ’em on the field. Until then, watch and learn.

      • I agree. Jones got this reputation for being out of control, but the only dumb thing he ever did was put his hand in that guy’s face last year. Many of his yellow cards were chasing people down when we turned the ball over.
        When I watch us play, one guy is constantly communicating and giving direction and leadership, JJ.
        He hasn’t paired well with MB, well why have all the fingers been pointed at him? MB, hasn’t exactly been Pirlo.. and how do we know he wasn’t playing exactly how JK told him to? I mean JK screwed up tactics left and right, we haven’t seen JJ and MB together under Arena.
        Yea he doesn’t have the technical soft touch in his game, but is it worse than Bedoya? No. Can MB dribble himself away from pressure much better? No.
        Is there another guy that gets stronger as the game goes on? That guy has another gear that kicks in midway through the 2nd half like nobody else we have…
        The guy is an experienced leader, he’s smart..he’s not a liability like some make him out to be.
        Dude’s a warrior… and Panama on the road coming off a loss??
        Gimme JJ.. period.

  2. So who is going to defend? Nagbe? Pulisic? Bedoya can defend on the right side In the diamond that they used against Honduras. Nagbe can muddle about on the left side, Playing like he did last game with no concept of how to be effective (He was not very good), And Bradley can lay back to play like Konte (HA !). With Jones instead of Bedoya, the balance is gone. Jones does not listen to instruction, he knows whats best in his own mind only . At least Bedoyas ego is not so large that he can not accept his role as a defensive cover with some attacking support. If I am Panama, I attack Jones as the weak spot.

    • This is one of the strangest usmnt takes i have seen. Jones is a defensive player. You would attack Jones rather than Nagbe? Bedoya?

      The world of US Soccer has some of the most wildly off-mark fan commentary this side of politics.

      • Yeah, another unknowledgeable fan unfortunately. It’s clear he didn’t watch the same game as many of us did, not did he read any of the articles that clearly defined Nagbes role as effective in maintaining possession and combining with Villafana at a 94% clip, he made the most tackles and recovered the ball from the opposition better than anyone else on the field but I guess that’s muddling about. Nagbe had a clear role and he played it the way it was meant to be!

    • this post is a load of horse manure, something I am familiar with. You say Jones does not listen to instruction? How on earth do you know that? Or is that coded language for something else? People spent the last 4 years berating JJ because MB couldn’t get forward enough with JJ on the field. Oops, it seems like MB prefers the deep lying role. Maybe it was MB not following instructions? Who can say? Or maybe they were both told to play as box to box midfielders. Now, there is an idea. As for your assertion that JJ is a liability on defense, it makes me wonder if you have any idea how the game is played.

  3. If he can keep Bedoya off the field somehow then he’s fine with me. The problem with Jones/Bradley is that both push up and neither stays back to cover. When that happens, the defense is hung out to dry on a counter attack. Jones is never gonna stay back. Maybe Bradley will, maybe but Jones never will. He can’t play the outside position as again, he’ll get caught up.

  4. Jones may be a nice guy, but he is a big liability for the USA. Bradley and Jones in midfield is poison. With mastodons like Cameron and Gonzalez, we have too many players with terrible ball distribution skills. If Pulisic sees the ball , it will probably in a position where he can do very little with it. Keep Bedoya ,add Besseler, and leave it alone. This could be a tricky game for the US. IF Panama sits back and counters keeping the ball on the ground, the fairly clumsy defense can be beaten. Lets hope we outscore them.

    • You kinda made the argument for Jones there. Dude is a sock passer of the ball and does a great job breaking up plays after turnovers.

      Jones is arguably the best field player that has ever played for the usmnt. He was the best player in the last world cup and hes a gamer like Dempsey and Howard.

      Jones plays until someone takes it from him. Period.

  5. I think the important thing to look back and remember that Jones shined in the Brazil when he was playing on the wing in a diamond 4-4-2

  6. Jermaine has his work cut out for him to get into this team. In the midfield diamond, with Nagbe the passer that Bruce has talked about wanting in the midfield doing well there, then Pulisic as the playmaker, and Bradley in the deep lying d-mid role, really the only spot for Jermaine in the diamond is on the right side – currently occupied by LLetget and Bedoya.

    Then if they go to an empty bucket 4-4-2… well him and Bradley have never looked convincing playing next to each other and he would have Nagbe to compete with, a rapidly improving Kellyn Acosta, and Cameron can also play that role well.

    • competition is good! and this is Fabian Johnson’s spot on the field his is hoping to fill. i don’t see why Jones could not win the RM of the diamond role for this game. in his recent years with Colorado and LA his attacking side has been more and more part of his game.

    • Don’t be shocked to see us go 4-5-1 this game or others in the future away from home. Unclear if Dempsey is ready to start another game on short week. Depends on doctors advice I suppose.
      This is a real possibility. Bedoya and Nagbe pinch in a good bit to assist with the posititional dysfunction that Bradley and Jones have struggled with together. At worst JJ is a great option to add energy to the midfield in the second half when we have our full allotment of players available.


      nagbe- Jones-bedoya


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