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Jermaine Jones, Nein Danke!
by Mike Woitalla, January 22nd, 2012 2:21AM

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TAGS:  germany, men's national team

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[USA CONFIDENTIAL] Mark last Saturday, when Jurgen Klinsmann gave the captain's band to a man serving an eight-week suspension for violent play, as a dark day in U.S. men’s national team history. Bad enough that Jermaine Jones, who was recently dubbed Germany's "nastiest player," was included in the U.S. squad. Incomprehensible that Klinsmann would deem him an appropriate leader of the U.S. team.

Jones’ most recent suspension came for a cheap-shot stomping of the foot of Marco Reus in a German Cup game. The ban doesn’t apply to national team games, but Klinsmann had other reasons not to call in Jones.

Here’s a player who gets yellow-carded in half the games he plays for his club. He managed yellow cards in six straight Bundesliga games for Schalke 04 this season before the attack on Reus. So reckless is his play that he injured U.S. teammate Steve Cherundolo during the USA’s 4-2 loss in last summer’s Gold Cup final. (A game Jones should have been ejected from for his off-the-ball attack on Javier Hernandez that included an attempted choke-hold.)

Jones, who was born and raised in Germany but opted to play for the USA when his future with the German national team evaporated, debuted under Coach Bob Bradley.

The 30-year-old gets an annual salary of more than $5 million from Schalke 04, according to German media, but his contributions on the field are as a pit-bull defensive midfielder.

Foreign-born and –raised players with U.S. citizenship certainly have every right to be considered for the U.S. national team. And it makes sense for the U.S. team to welcome players who have attributes U.S. products aren’t delivering, and who can raise the level of U.S. play.

But if Klinsmann thinks Jones meets that criterion, he sends an alarming message of what he thinks about American talent. And to elevate a player with such an atrocious disciplinary record to captain demeans the position, provides a dangerous role model, and tarnishes the image of the U.S. national team.



30 comments
  1. Douglas Wood
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.
    My guess -- and it's only a guess -- is that Klinsmann was offering Jones a chance at redemption. If that was the case, then I think Jones took him up on that offer. He played very well.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 10:37 a.m.
    I absolutely agree with the article. What kind of message is Klinsmann sending by, not just calling up, but making a captain a player banned for being a thug?

  1. Running Cloud
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.
    Maybe JK has convinced Jones to leave his thuggery in Germany. He had an excellent match. Hope it continues. Captain? He played like one last night. If not him as skipper, then who? BTW, didn't Gattuso leave the most thuggish part of his game behind when playing for Italy?

  1. Tobi Tatze
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
    If you would know the German Bundesliga, you wouldn't write such a b.llsh.t. At the beginning of the season, Jones had no chance to play at Schalke as former coach Rangnick did not want his defensive strength but more technical players in the midfield. After Rangnick decided to leave due to his burn-out, actual coach Stevens changed the team and gave Jones a chance to play his game (that is pretty agressive indeed). The result: Schalke stabilized in the Defense and Jones was one of the main reasons for it. So please do your homework before you write an article about a player, that you seem not to know at all. Most of the teams need a player like Jermaine Jones, that has the skill to fight back even when the rest of the team doesn't play well. See Mark van Bommel in Munich. You hate those players when they play against your team, but you have to love them, if they play for your colors.

  1. Den A
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 1:19 p.m.
    This is an atrocious article... Did you even see the game? This dude was the best player out of the 22 players that were on the field last night. This is a malicious piece of BS. Yes, he is a rugged player with skills, that doesn't deny him the right to represent the US. So, who should be the captain of this group? Brek Shea?... This is a pathetic article..

  1. Den A
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
    Oh, in my opinion, this is one of the best game any US team has played under Jurgen this far...

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
    I for one am glad we have an "enforcer" in the midfield. He is the senior player on this team, and the only player with European first-division experience.

  1. Michael D
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 6:43 p.m.
    Just for information and how to classify the character of Mr. Jones: Here is the video of the foul. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBwkNQZSYhI Please note: Every fan in Germany knows about a broken toe on the left foot of Reus. Reus uses a special shoe for the play. Please have a look at Jones route and head while making the foul.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
    So, if I understand it correctly, the consensus here is that we don't care if Jones is a thug -- he's our thug -- as long as he had a good game (which, btw, I'm not at all sure) against Venezuela's C team. As far as who could've captained the team last night -- how about Feilhaber (by far the most intelligent player on the field, and the most capped) or even Pearce or Parkhurst?

  1. Chris Lynch
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.
    His best game by far. I don't see a problem with Jones.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 8:18 a.m.
    I didn't get a chance to see the game v. Venezuela (other than the highlights), so I can't comment on how well he played there, but I've never been impressed with him in the games I've watched; he can cover a lot of ground, but his distribution is usually very poor. And given his reputation for thuggery (thanks for the youtube video, Micheal D, that foul was about as premeditated as it gets), I don't see the need to have him on the team, given that we have a lot of defensive midfielders who are at least as good as he is (Edu and Bradley are both better, and I think Clark is as good). As a defender, I appreciate aggressive defense, but that is created by the attitude of the team (see Barcelona), not the presence of an enforcer. We can do better than Jones.

  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 8:46 a.m.
    I've worried about Jones, too. More worrying, though, is the jogo bonito pollyanishness of Mike's commentary, especially in the wake of Jones' superb performance. And I like that Klinsi has rewarded waywardness.

  1. Brad Matheny
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.
    I agree with Tobi Tatze. Jones is a very good player and an important part of our US team's mix. Writing articles like this passing judgement and stirring the pot is not material I look forward ot reading from you Mike W. How about focus your spotlight on how long the Venezulians spent complaining about fouls, or how their defensive midfielder chopped repeatedly at Jones ankles time and again. Defend the US Mike, that's the team you should be on!

  1. Theodore Eison
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 10:58 a.m.
    I respect your opinion, but please acknowledge it as just that. From your previous work, you're better than just passing off your opinion as fact. Gattuso was an integral part of Italy and Milan. Chelsea had Essien. Man U had Keane. It's all the same.

  1. Dennis Mueller
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
    Jones made a horrible pass and (probably correctly) committed a tactical foul to prevent his error from costing the US. BUT, instead of tripping, grabbing or pushing the player, he chose to violently kick the player in the knee. That probably should have been a red card, not a yellow and the US would have been reduced to 10 men with a lot of the match yet to be played. For me, too often Jones takes the dark path!

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 12:24 p.m.
    Simple fact here, if not for Jones play we would have at best TIED a Venezuelan "C" team here at home... he was by a wide margin the best player we fielded. It's telling that the MLS contingent as a whole looked weak and sloppy most of this match and if not for having a few players like Jones, Feilhaber and Parkhurst... well we easily could have embarrassed ourselves. Is JJ a lovely individual, maybe not but what if it had been Beckerman out there instead, do you really think that would have resulted in our playing a stronger match? No you had your mind made up well BEFORE this match and there was likely nothing that this guy could do to please you... but having a hard guy is part of fielding a team and tell me what you thought of say Pablo Mastroeni? No the likelyhood of a 30 year old continuing through to the next World cup is maybe 50:50... but when I watched players like Zusi not be able to string together three simple passes... well give me the guy who has played a decade in the Budesliga every time thank you. (ICE)

  1. Carl Walther
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
    To all of the 'enablers' who wrote in to excuse or ignore Jones usual thuggish playing style, I (and soccer fans that I know) are not interested in watching or supporting a team who's coach brings in a player with a sociopathic personality disorder.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
    To all the "pseudo-psychologists" above: except for one comment, did anyone wonder why Klinsmann made him team captain? A little psycho-babble would go a short way, and while I've known Mike W for many-many years, I am surprised at the tenor of his article. Redemption? I think so, and while I do not condone thuggery, where are the comments (save one) decrying the ugly vinotinto's degrading the game, and their unsporting conduct towards the end of the game? How about the referee failing to call several flagrant fouls in the PA? And while I also I also feel that Klinsmann knows and sees more "redeeming" qualities in Jones, MW and most everyone else, how about putting yourselves in the coach's shoes, and that Bradley and Edu would do a better job, please give us a break!

  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 1:27 p.m.
    How's this for psycho-babble? Nothing says intellectual honesty, to certain people, more than self-hatred. It's common and laughable, as are the leaps of logic, the quickness to condemnation, etc.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 1:27 p.m.
    One more thing, in reference to Woitalla's last paragraph, re: what Klinsmann "thinks" about American talent, I suggest that you read the Los Angeles Times' article on specifically on this very topic, and also, team captains are certainly not your usual-next-door pollyanish "role models" all the time, after all just remember how Donovan behaved some years back while playing for the USMNT in Mexico, and yet he was given the captain's arm band; so what's this about a role model stuff??? Lastly as for diminishing and tarnishing US soccer.... and btw, is this the first anti-Klinsmann salvo?

  1. ted b
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
    If Mark Van Bommel can captain the Netherlands then Jones can captain the USA.

  1. Karl Schreiber
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 2:34 p.m.
    1. Klinsmann makes the decisions and answers to the guys who hired him. 2. I would select a mature player as captain, someone who can control his emotions, can inspire other players in many ways. I watch the Bundesliga games shown on GOLTV and I would be very reluctant selecting Jones because of his frequent foul play, his apparent lack of control over his emotions, and ultimately the risk of suspension and thus hurting his team. 3. I’d like to see clarification on how these foreign players qualify to play for the U.S. National Teams. IMHO they do NOT need to be citizens. A GI dad or such suffices. Also - look at US players playing abroad basically for their parents’ national teams (Subotic, Rossi et al). 4. I’d like to see a policy developed by USSF with our National Team coaches concerning the recruiting of foreign ‘legionnaires’. It won’t be easy! - However, some of the players from Germany on the MNT are only marginally better than our talent; the main difference probably being their exposure to a higher level of league play. 5. Why stage a practice game without our best players as a public event???

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.
    I watched Jones a bit last year in the EPL -- he was just tough, not violent IMHO. If you want to see violent players, watch MLS, where out of control tackles are the norm -- count off how many of the best players in MLS went out last year with broken legs or destroyed knees. Put a real European ref in charge of an MLS game and it would likely end up 6 on 5. It's not just that the tackling is ugly, so is the spirit in which the game is often played.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.
    1. Should Jones Play? 2. Should Jones be Captain? 3. Is Jones a "Dirty" Player? Any and all of these are worthy of debate, but not for me. I can't change Herr Klinsman's decision on this matter. I will comment that it is a stroke of tactical genius giving your enforcer the captain's armband because the player wearing that armband will have FAR MORE RESPECT from the officials than any other player on the field. You go ahead and hash out numbers 1,2, and 3. I will just roll with genius of Jones getting protection from the Coach.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 5:10 p.m.
    RIDICULOUS! You don't know soccer.

  1. Joshua Rosenbaum
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.
    Smart move by JK. Anybody whoever wore the captain's armband at a high level understands the significance and responsibility that goes with that. The captain's armband challenges a player to take a leadership role, to be more level-headed, to put the team first. Time for Jermain Jones to grow up or get out. It's a good test.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
    Captaining the US national team should be an honor and a privilege, not some kind of a test.

  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 6:15 p.m.
    This article is laughable. Yes, Jones is a hardcase. He is a D-mid, he is supposed to me. Yes, they commit some rough looking fouls sometimes, that is their job. If you create a sense of intimidation in the middle of the pitch and the other team funnels the ball to the flanks every time you have just won the mental game and made defending a lot easier. Jones is one of the best players on our team. Suggesting he is worse than Clark or Bradley or Edu is laughable. He captained Schalke 04, none of those other players have come close to that sort of achievement. I for one would be fine with Jones captaining the team every time. Also, as someone else pointed out, it is a stroke of genius to make the player most prone to yellow cards the captain since they tend to be given more leniency. For those who want a bunch of boy scouts on the USMNT, that's fine. I wanna win. If we have to be the meanest SOB's in the world to do it, DO IT.

  1. J Webb
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.
    DISLIKE. How is this a legitimate article? It should be in the opinion section and not represented as actual soccer commentary. I'm disappointed with Soccer America for allowing this type of low-level content.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: January 24, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
    So Jones is now officially a schweinhund?


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