Honduras v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Exploring the Jermaine Jones conundrum. Again.


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.

(MORE: When the game gets more technical and tactical, Jones’ game suffers)

(MORE: Klinsmann elaborates on his regard for Jones)

Hilarious “Friends” spoof video ‘starring’ Messi, Ronaldo (video)

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Given the rivalry surrounding the two megawatt superstars plying their trade in Spain, you may be surprised to learn that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best of friends.

[ MORE: Top USMNT-Mexico rivalry moments ]

At least that’s what this spoof video conveys, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars help each other navigate tax season and toilet troubles.

Brilliant stuff, from FootbOle:

Top USMNT-Mexico moments: Looking back ahead of Saturday

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 25:  Landon Donovan #10 of United States celebrates his goal with teammates Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Alejandro Bedoya #22  against Mexico during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship at the Rose Bowl on June 25, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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You could argue its the biggest match between the U.S. and Mexico outside of the 2002 World Cup’s Round of 16, and there would be few arguments against you.

The United States and Mexico will tangle on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to the 2017 Confederations Cup finals in Russia.

It’s only so often that these rivals match up in a “do or die” match. Sure World Cup qualifiers carry critical import, but they don’t always become the decisive moment in the qualifying cycle.

[ MORE: Spurs’ teen shining at center back for U.S. U-23s ]

Aside from the aforementioned World Cup match and the first match in the rivalry — see 1934 below — no other match has carried as much international weight as Saturday.

So with anticipation high, let’s dance backward in time to the Yanks’ best moments in the rivalry. And let’s also imagine what would have to happen to put Saturday in the mix.

(Of course, our apologies to Mexican fans. We aren’t including the times you slapped American soccer in the face).

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” to the fourth power

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers.

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded an upset of the world’s then-No. 7 ranked nation, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

Aldo Donnelli scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years.