SALT LAKE CITY – One major thread coming out of last night’s match was whether Jermaine Jones knows his role? SI’s Grant Wahl asked that very question, and it certainly seems worth exploring.
Jurgen Klinsmann has worked and worked to improve the communication, understanding and awareness between Jones and Michael Bradley, with gradually improving results until last night. Given how tactically aware Bradley has always been, and considering how he has clearly emerged as this team’s midfield control room, it seems fair to say any fissures in this important midfield relationship are more Jones’ problem than Bradley’s to sort out.
In Klinsmann’s lexicon, Jones is a “Number 6,” which means holding midfielder. Bradley is the “No. 8,” which means linking man and supporting, defensive midfielder.
If Bradley is already forward in a sequence, Jones has to protect the midfield. Period. Absent of that disciplined, tactical protection, the betters of world soccer will ruthlessly punish the United States. Roger Espinoza nearly did so last night, even with a depleted Honduran lineup around him.
Klinsmann has long protected Jones against a chorus of public grousing, adjudging that the German-born midfielder’s positives (leadership qualities and ball-winning abilities, mostly) mitigate the negatives (too many midfield turnovers, mostly). But stronger teams than Honduras are out there and will certainly be among the field of 32 next year in Brazil.
It’s on Jones to clean up that part of his game – especially as Geoff Cameron emerges as yet another option for the position.