No question that Jermaine Jones just delivered the biggest, baddest performance in his U.S. national team career, a real fearless force of will on display as he demonstrated to American teammates Friday how to ignore the brutal conditions and just get on with it.
So, what awful timing that Jones has been declared out by U.S. Soccer for Tuesday’s meeting with Mexico at fabled Azteca Stadium.
Jones has an ankle injury, suffered in Friday’s first half, one that required halftime stitches. U.S. Soccer just confirmed to me that Jones did not travel with the team to Mexico.
Prior to the injury, the U.S. midfielder seemed to push through the worsening conditions as well as anyone on the field. Hardly a surprise, really, considering this is exactly why U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann loves the guy, for his infectious warrior spirit. Yes, Klinsmann sees the same deficiencies we all do: Jones’ confounding propensity to collect silly and needless bookings, and his troubling rate of midfield turnovers.
But in Klinsmann’s assessment, the Bundesliga veteran’s creative ability and that fearless leadership (not just on match day, but in practices, in the team hotel, etc.) is ample return for the technical and discipline troubles.
Given Danny Williams’ illness-related absence, there really are just two choices for replacing Jones in the ball-winning midfield role: It’s Kyle Beckerman or Maurice Edu, although Edu may be needed along the back line if the U.S. staff wants to be a little more defensive, perhaps replacing the more attack-minded DaMarcus Beasley with some back line rearrangement.