Many US fans have been rubbing their hands in anticipation of having Schalke’s Jermaine Jones playing under the red, white and blue. The son of a German mother and American father has applied to FIFA to get his team designation switched from Germany to the US. The holding midfielder is a tough tackler in the Bundesliga – a league of tough tacklers. Consistent starters in major European leagues are a bit of a rarity on the USMNT, so when Jones decided to forsake the German team to throw his lot with the US, it was looked at as a real coup.
Unfortunately, Jones has been battling a bad injury curse. He has a hairline fracture in his shin, which has prevented him from playing at all this season. Word has come out of Germany today that Jones has not healed as they would have liked and may need further surgery. If this is the case, Jones will not be kicking a soccer ball in a competive game for months.
All this raises more questions than it answers for Bob Bradley and the USMNT-
- If there is one (and there may only be one) position where the US is not thin on options, it is in the center of the midfield. Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Jose Torres, and Ricardo Clark are all good options for that enforcer role, and with Benny Feilhaber as the only true creative midfielder, Jones may bring additional salt to a stew that needs more spice.
- Jones has never once played or practiced for the US at any level. He played on the German U-21 team, and has not spent one moment training with US coaches. Jones has the reputation as being a bit of a touchy guy (head-case maybe too strong, but not by much). Knowing that Bradley will have only seen him in action via his television, can he really understand how to incorporate him into the scheme?
- How is it realistic to think that Jones’ first touch in a competitive game for the US will come in South Africa next summer? How can there be any understanding between Jones and his teammates without ever having played a competitive game before?
Many of these questions can also be raised about Edgar Castillo, who has recently been approved to switch his allegiance from Mexico to the US. But at least Castillo will be allowed to train with the US next month and play in their last two WCQ games. Beyond Castillo, some subset of the players that we have seen over the past several months are almost certain to be the team that flies to Africa next June. It is hard to imagine a scenario where Jermaine Jones will be on that plane.