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Jermaine Jones

Thoughts on Jermaine Jones and the USMNT


UEFA Photo

Ives Galarcep confirmed this morning what I had read in the Euro papers early last night eastern time: that Jermaine Jones a disruptive but effective force for Schlake 04 in an otherwise disappointing few seasons for the Gelsenkirchen based club wants to play for the USA.

Watching Schalke (thank you GOL TV and Hallo Bundesliga program) Jones is a pretty solid holding midfielder although the team was horrible at times this past season and has been pretty poor by the standard of their fans since he arrived in the summer 2007 window.

Playing for the German U-21 team and three times in friendlies Jones is seeking to exploit a new FIFA ruling that allows players to change their national team even after the age of 21 if they have not played in a competitive international match. Jones is the son of an American serviceman, and even though he has never lived in the USA proper he holds dual citizenship.

Jones however could further develop into a budding star under Felix Magath who led Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title this past season and now manages Schalke. But at 27, Jones whose growth has been remarkable over the past few seasons probably has only one more World Cup cycle in him after this one.

For all of Jones assets including starting at a top European club, he is a head case who unlike Jose Torres, the other recent conversion to the US doesn’t have particularly good technical ability and is a bit of a brutish player which fits in well in the Bundesliga but may be a problem combating Latin flair. Consider him a bit of a rich man’s Chris Armas or Demo Kovelenko.

Jones flamed out at Bayer Leverkusen, a club with experience for many current American pool players (Frankie Hejduk, John Thorrington and Landon Donovan), and was also injury prone. But in two stints at Eintracht Frankfurt he was a first team star when healthy. His time at Schalke has also been successful.

Bob Bradley must ultimately determine how disruptive Jones would be to this World Cup cycle. No question exists that Jones has more top level experience and ultimately better tactical senses than the other options at holding midfield.

But Bradley must consider the affects on team chemistry.

Famously, we’ve been through the David Regis saga once before and even though Regis proved to be a solid player integrating a guy with no experience in the national system and limited English fluency disrupted the team in a World Cup year. Regis was a skilled player and he ultimately helped the next US coach, Bruce Arena. But he did not help the one who quickly sought his citizenship and his inclusion in the squad, Steve Sampson. In fact the Regis saga contributed to Sampson’s ultimate demise as US manager.

For those who scream, Tom Dooley, keep in mind Dooley was brought in a full two years before a World Cup at a time when the US was hosting a World Cup and thus did not have to qualify. Furthermore, the US lacked skilled players at the time and Dooley and Earnie Stewart who was Dutch, were true professionals at a time when many American national team members were actually semi-professionals.

The professionalism Stewart and Dooley brought to the US and their willingness to embrace a country that they had never lived in brought up the level of the US National Team. Jones too is a player of some note in Germany, truthfully a higher level player than Dooley or Stewart was at the time in their countries. However, the US is not in need of professional players in 2009 as we were in 1991 and 1992- we have three fully professional divisions and countless players in professional leagues abroad.

Despite my qualms about integration into the squad and his propensity to be sent off  for a reckless challenge , Jones would be a lock for the World Cup team if Bradley does decide the risks I outlined above are worth taking. The big question is are those risks worth taking?

Should the USMNT call Jermaine Jones up as soon as FIFA clears him?(polls)

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  1. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Yeah he lived in MS for a while which I didn’t realize when this piece was written.

  2. Chuck

    July 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    The information indicating he never lived in the US is factually incorrect. The cries of mercenary ought to be reconsidered. Jermaine was born in the US and lived here for a considerable period through his childhood. See the New York Times article:

  3. Mattey

    June 19, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    That’s Dema Kovalenko.

  4. Michael Bauman

    June 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Alright finally a player worth talking about for the U.S. This guy is exactly who we need sitting in front of our back 4. With his strength in the middle of the park, it could free up Bocanegra to play on the left side of defence (which is very weak right now) and slot in Demerit and Onyewu behind Jones leaving Spector. This also a suggestion, on August 3rd who better to welcome Jones to the U.S. team than Klinsman as his manager. I believe they must have work together in the past for the German youth teams and it would get the most out of Jones and the rest of the U.S. team to have a world class coach for once that is actually qualified to coach at this level.

  5. Bryan

    June 16, 2009 at 10:13 am

    No!……This just means even less playing time for torres….who is clearer are best player on the ball

  6. Big Mike

    June 16, 2009 at 12:33 am

    I would not take this player. First, Germany never really took him into their national team, so why should we? Second, we have tons of much better talent coming in from South America. We don’t need this guy. Plus a guy who switches sides like that can never be fully trusted.

  7. Connor

    June 15, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Jermaine Jones talent is good enough to play for the USMNT. Dramatic issues aside, like never living in America or his somewhat erratic style of play, we have a year until the World Cup which gives Bradley more than enough time to at least give him a few caps. Say his attitude and style of play doesn’t mesh with the current team…than we send him packing and wish him well. But if it does work out, we get a high quality player in a position of need which allows Bradley to effectively use different formations. It also opens the door to moving a player out to left back, like Michael Bradley.

    Bring him in, at least temporarily.

  8. Özbek

    June 15, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Jones is a player for advanced fans who can appreciate a nice rough tackle. And though he’s 27 he’s still getting better every year.

  9. Earl

    June 13, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Wait until after the Confed Cup? Well let’s see maybe Rico Clark will prove he’s better than the captain of a Bundesliga club.

    People voting anything other than yes are idiots. I’m sorry, there I said it!

  10. Matthew

    June 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    The only ones voting no on that pool are little mikey and big bobby! sadly, big bobby has the decision making authority.

  11. Ferd

    June 13, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Kartik, you know US Soccer history better than anyone which is part of the reason I read your sites and listen to all your shows. But you fail to point out the most obvious question of all. Jones was courted heavily by Bruce Arena years ago and turned the US down. He wanted to play for Germany. He always felt German. Now, all of a sudden with the international door closing on him after a few uneven performances with Germany and a coach who admittedly does not like his style of player the way previous German coaches who brought him through the system did, he jumps ship and joins the US.

    No doubt J. Jones is much better than our current midfielders. But he repeatedly did not want to play for us in the past and now does. Shouldn’t that be part of the story here?

  12. Lawerence

    June 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I thought the ship had sailed on securing Jones years ago. I’m happy the new FIFA rule allowed for a switch to happen. He’s a class player. Jermaine brings that destroyer, enforcer mentality to the table. Now let’s get Jones in on the action! I wish he had dome this a week earlier. he could be in south Africa adjusting to the squad. But now he’ll be ready for the Gold Cup!

  13. barefootsoccer

    June 13, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I don’t appreciate the chemistry concerns. Costa Rica shows what kind of chemistry this team has under BB. But then, I blame BB’s strategy for that fiasco. We have a year to go and lots of games. None of our players should be complacent or deserve to feel entitled. I like MB but I’m not sold on him. Edu is still very inexperienced. If the back can be solidified, more of our attacking players can play. Let’s be frank, Gooch and Bocanegra will be our central defenders barring injury and a change in coaches. Need a strong, disruptive athletic defensive mid and that’s not MB (at a WC level)! I didn’t see Italy turn its back on Rossi or Serbia on Subotic!

  14. Karl

    June 13, 2009 at 10:53 am

    You got a quality player, who has still not reached his ceiling.
    Will he ever be a top notch central/defensive midfield player in a Pirlo/Makelele/Viera sense? No.
    His ceiling will be more like Gattuso`s.
    Nonetheless you got a very fine player, who will be a very important part of your team.
    I am a supporter of Low’s “technical midfield” vision, but a player like Jones can always be an important player of a quality team. He was in the mix and he would have been a regular under one of the past German managers. But Low’s vision is different than his predecessors so he wants players that are better on the abll and in the attack.

  15. Austin Aztex Fan

    June 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

    The German team could regret this. Ballack is at the end of his career and will possibly retire after the world cup. Frings is way past his prime and would be very lucky to get to south Africa. Rolfes and Hitzelsberger are not as good as Jones but fairly close. The only players who can realistically get to his level him are youngsters Gentner of Wolfsburg and Sami Khedira of Stuttgart who are technically more sound and making good progress. But if you need a tackling machine who will scare the opposition none of them will match Jones.

  16. Ture

    June 13, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Kartik, I know this falls under the “due diligence” category covering both sides of the issue, but like you watching the Bundesliga regularly makes me believe this guy instantly becomes our second best field player behind Landon. If his attitude is right move him into the starting XI, NOW!

  17. Jason

    June 13, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I am sure the USMNT staff is not hearing this interest for the first time with the rest of us, but I do wonder if the Bradley has made any overtures to Jones or if this announcement is simply Jones trying to get Bradley’s attention. Are there any deals in place?

    I say give it a try, the worst that can happen is Bradley gets cold feet and does not include him on the roster next June.

  18. eplnfl

    June 13, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Bring him in. No other nation would fail to add players if necessary. Let’s face it we need a quality midfielder and some attitude on and off the field is not a bad thing. We can name other quality players from other teams the could play for the US but do not. So end the debate.

  19. LI Matt

    June 13, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I remember seeing this guy in the England friendly. There have been lots of players in Europe who fit the profile — most famously, his club’s new manager — and I wonder if US Soccer has gotten arrogant about “we don’t need to go looking for people like that”.

  20. Seybold

    June 13, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Thanks for the info, Schalke fan.

  21. OPI

    June 13, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Let us hope this isn’t a Michael Mason redux.

  22. larry

    June 13, 2009 at 12:19 am

    good thorough article the best one i have seen on this situation all day. quick question though…… can a website that features a good analysis like this have astupid article about the chicago fire winning the epl on the same day? different writers i know, but seriously doesn’t the website have some minimum standard to write or post?

  23. Trey

    June 12, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    I’m sorry, but I don’t want mercenaries on my national team. I want players who have lived in the USA and consider themselves American, even if it’s hyphenated-American. I had assumed we were past the days of David Regis and David Wagner. And I wish we were.

    Let the Republic of Ireland and Mexico bring in foreign mercenaries, how’s that working out for them?

    To be clear, I’m absolutely in favor of immigrants’ rights to choose their team. But if you’ve never lived in a country, you simply shouldn’t represent them at the national team level.

  24. Schalke Fan

    June 12, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Some added info from Germany (

    He played a really good year in a horrible season for Schalke. His performance makes him one of the top DM in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately our national team coach is not very fond of him – he has (as someone already stated here) not a perfect technique and others have greater abilities in steering a match. Löw stated that he exactly wants these abilities and additionally asked him to work on his offensive abilities. He did that (scored 3 goals, 5 assist as purely defensive midfielder and without free kicks etc) but was not chosen for an Asia trip of the national team (with many players missing) which equalled to “You have no chance for the WC!”. As he is on top of his career and sees his last chance for a WC in 2010 he cannot wait for Löw to be dismissed. So he takes the chance the US offers. I can understand him. Good think for you if you need an athletic, aggressive, DEFENSIVE midfielder. About his character: don’t know – but he is now really a fan favorite “auf Schalke” and many like to seem him called captain next season.

  25. SunsetFC

    June 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    J.J. may be good enough for Bradley to abandon the bucket system all together. Two defensive midfielders are arguably needed with Boca and Gooch in central defense, but with an athletic, physical presence the likes of Jones roaming around the good old USA may just score a few more goals from the run of play.

  26. Jeff

    June 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Jermain Jones!!!!!!!!!!

    We have a savior. Thank you FIFA.

  27. Angry USA Fan

    June 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    kartik i understand the regis issue but this guy is so substantially better than our other holding mids and this is happening earlier in the cycle than that did so it has to be done. regis was also better than our other fullbacks, but integrating a guy a year out is different than a month out.

    if we don’t do this bradley should be fired. oh wait he should be fired already.

  28. Kartik

    June 12, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    This guy is a top 5 midfielder in the Bundesliga. No doubt he should become a starter, especially if the empty bucket is where bob sees ours future lie. I would even suggest a 4-1-3-2 which would allow Feilhaber, Bradley, and Adu to fight for the attacking midfield spot To be honest, Jones is basically an upgrade over Bradley, but there’s now way Mikey’s gonna be dropped, so it’ll be interesting where this takes us.

  29. John H

    June 12, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    You can rationalize all you want but we don’t have very good talent and how many position guys in our pool are good enough to be called up for Germany or to start for a team chasing European qualifying every year?

    The answer: Very few if any.

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