[AMERICANS ABROAD] If Jermaine Jones hoped he could sneak through the German soccer federation (DFB) hearing process for the first straight red card of his career, he was wrong. The German-American's disciplinary record as a "Wiederholungstaeter" ("serial offender") was not lost on the DFB, which suspended him four games for the foul on Ibrahima Traore in Schalke 04's 3-1 loss to VfB Stuttgart. The suspension, which Schalke has appealed, comes almost a year after he was banned for eight games for stomping on the injured foot of then-Borussia Moenchengladbach winger Marco Reus in an incident not seen by the referee.
The DFB used the 31-year-old Jones' long record of red cards for second yellow cards and suspensions for the accumulation of yellow cards as the basis for the four-game ban.
The red card against Stuttgart was Jones' fifth since joining Schalke in 2007, a club record. He received 11, 13 and 14 yellow cards in his first three full seasons at Schalke. He has three cautions in his first 14 Bundesliga games this season and two yellows in five UEFA Champions League appearances.
The suspension, if upheld, means that Jones will be ineligible to play for Schalke until Feb. 9, four days after the USA opens the Hexagonal against Honduras.
It creates a dilemma for U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Does Klinsmann bring Jones into the January national team camp like he did at the beginning of 2012 in the aftermath of the Reus incident? (Klinsmann went out of his way to praise Jones' work ethic at the camp as a model for his younger U.S. teammates.) Does Klinsmann otherwise call up a player who will have not played a competitive game in two months?
Klinsmann says opponents fear the combustible Jones, but the Frankfurt-born midfielder would not be considered an automatic choice to start if the U.S. squad was at full strength.
Jones started the USA's first four 2014 World Cup qualifiers but the successful pairing of Michael Bradley and Danny Williams in central midfield has since made Jones the odd man out.
Coming off an ankle injury, Jones started the game at Antigua & Barbuda on the bench, came on in the second half and was almost immediately carded for a stupid hand ball. It was his second yellow card of qualifying and meant he was suspended for the final game of the semifinal round against Guatemala.
Jones has also played on the outside, where Klinsmann has fewer options.