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Jermaine Jones

Much-Maligned Jermaine Jones Was Key Man in US Win Against Ghana

Jurgen Klinsmann has always had a close attachment to Jermaine Jones. Whether it was because he was one of the first high-profile German dual nationals to come play for the United States in this squad or he positionally was key to Klinsmann’s ideal formation, the German-American coach has always stood up for the midfielder even when soccer writers (myself included) criticized Jones’ play and exaggerated his yellow card record.

In the United States 2-1 win over Ghana, Klinsmann was vindicated. On a night where alleged talisman Michael Bradley played maybe his worst game in a U.S. shirt, and the Yanks seemed to be barely hanging on at every turn, Jones not only was a stalwart defensively but did so out of his normal position on the field.

The United States came out in a 4-1-2-1-2/4-4-2 diamond midfield, but when Jozy Altidore pulled up with an injury halfway through the first half, that midfield became even straighter in the U.S. half.  Not surprisingly Kyle Beckerman dropped back to provide cover for the inexperienced duo of Cameron and Besler (and then Brooks). However, Klinsmann also decided that he would drop Michael Bradley further back as well, to serve at best as a deep-lying playmaker but practically as a disrupter. Without Bradley’s skill further up the pitch, the U.S. became bogged down and reactive to a buzzing Ghana.

Jones was deployed to the left of the midfield and, looking at the heat map, that was primarily where he remained most of the game. Why did Klinsmann choose to place him here instead of where Bradley was? First, Jones on the left would allow him to help mark Daniel Opare and Christian Atsu while DaMarcus Beasley could roam forward, but quickly Jones himself became an offensive threat as he provided the key pass to Clint Dempsey, which Dempsey turned into a goal mere seconds after the first whistle.

Although his final stats are far from gaudy, Jones held down that side defensively and posed enough of a threat going forward that the Ghana right flank was stunted in the attack during the match. Most of the Ghana threat (and their only goal) came from their left.

Jones and Beasley tilted the field and while that was almost enough for Ghana to escape with points, Jermaine Jones play in general was the most consistent of any player on the pitch. Whether it was breaking up attacks, tracking back to defend, trying to provide that incisive pass to the forwards, or even putting his own shot on net, he rewarded Klinsmann’s faith in him by playing out of his (U.S. national team) position and showing that he is flexible enough for Klinsmann to expert with his formation. If Altidore and Besler are out of the next game, this will be critical for the U.S.

If Jones had remained in his usual position in the middle, the American attack would have been even more anemic for most of this match plus the left side would have been problematic for the defense.

But for tonight, he was the US’s man of the match and proved he could be the key cog in the midfield going forward.

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  1. Clampdown

    June 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Jones was incredible last night. Without him, the US doesn’t win that match. I still hold my breath when the ball is at Beckerman’s feet, though. His defensive positioning is good, but he slows play down when the US is on the break, and he still has problems completing a pass from 10 yards.

  2. EDub

    June 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Without Jones/Beckerman, US loses that game by a serious margin.

    If we go through to the next round, all you Jones haters will really need to get on that humble pie.

  3. Americano & Proud

    June 17, 2014 at 1:36 am

    I’ve always liked Jones especially since he never shies away from big time opponents like Brazil or Germany. Perhaps its due to being raised outside of the US and being developed in a soccer nation or just his mindset but I love it. Since Jûrgen switched up the formation to a diamond midfield he has excelled. It’s really the perfect spot for him since he loves to roam and chase the ball, compared to the #6 role Beckerman sits in now. Since he loves making those runs with the ball it seems like a new home for him. Lets hope the coaching staff keeps this in mind while they tweak the lineup for Portugal.

    Also I bet if he hadn’t suffered that shin injury four years ago, the US probably advances against Ghana in South Africa.

  4. Grayson

    June 17, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I used to hate Jermaine Jones, always a liability for a yellow card, always worried about a 2nd yellow from him. I always thought he was trying to do too much and was too much of a hot head.

    Tonight he was Beasley’s cover, and he was one of the most consistent players for the US. Best game by far in a US shirt.

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