When Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to be the new coach of the US Men’s National Team in 2011, there was much excitement over the appointment of a successful innovator that would help propel America forward in the world of soccer. Transforming the United States into an elite soccer powerhouse would not be easy but it seemed more possible than ever before under Klinsmann’s tutelage.
Three years have passed and it is obvious that the challenges set forth by Klinsmann have resulted in players and officials struggling to be on the same page with the German. Between expecting players to adapt to new positions and having them be regularly tested in foreign leagues, Klinsmann is testing just how committed the players are to taking America further than ever before on the international stage.
Whether the USMNT actually does succeed may be based off the amount of belief there is in what Klinsmann feels is necessary to take the US even further in the World Cup.
Ever since Brazil, Klinsmann has experimented with players in terms of what they are capable of. We have seen the likes of Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud, Michael Bradley and others demanded to become more versatile by accepting new responsibilities. Based off their last two matches, the transition for many of these players has been a mixed bag.
After excelling in Brazil as a holding midfielder who proved adept at making key contributions on both ends of the pitch, Jones was surprisingly called upon to line up at as a center-back against Honduras. Outside of being badly beaten in the air from a well-taken set piece, Jones impressed both at defending and distributing the ball from the back.
In terms of Jones’ evolving role with the USMNT, becoming a center-back may be the best solution for the German-American to prolong his international career. Having played in the heart of the defense for both Schalke and Besiktas, Jones is familiar with the position which may serve as his best chance to still be in contention for Russia in 2018. He didn’t seem unfamiliar with his role as he withstood plenty of pressure from Honduras especially in the second half.
A fantastic diving tackle he made on the Honduran attacker Romell Quioto highlighted his strong athleticism in terms of physicality and agility. He worked well with Matt Besler, especially in the first half before the US made a number of substitutions that unsurprisingly affected the team’s chemistry.