[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.