The United States will be without Jermaine Jones when they take on Panama in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, the midfielder confirmed via Instagram on Sunday. Jones suffered a concussion in the States' 2-1 win over Jamaica on Friday and has been been resting with the hope that he could return against the Canaleros, but he will have to watch from the sideline instead.
The injury comes at a terrible time for Jones, who is playing some of his best soccer in a U.S. shirt. He was phenomenal when the Americans beat Germany a week ago and followed it up with a strong performance against Jamaica. His constant movement and pressure caused problems for opposing midfielders, his passing was tidy and he cut out some of the fouls that plagued him in the past, but that came to an end, at least temporarily, when he fell to the ground in Kingston with a concussion and had to be substituted off.
Now Jurgen Klinsmann and Co. will have to cross their fingers that Jones will be able to take the field when they host Honduras on June 18 in another World Cup qualifier. He was cleared to ride a stationary bike over the weekend so there is progress in his recovery and the Honduras match is a reasonable expectation for return.
Klinsmann now has to choose between several options to replace Jones. Sacha Kljestan is one possibility, but he struggled in the Americans' friendly against Belgium two weeks ago. So is Stuart Holden, albeit a remote possibility, while Geoff Cameron is also in the mix despite not playing much midfield over the last 12 months because he did get some time there as a substitute against Jamaica.
Klinsmann could also change from the 4-2-3-1 he has favored of late to a 4-3-3, starting two central midfielders alongside Michael Bradley to help compensate for Jones' absence. That option is even more appealing because Graham Zusi is out against Panama through suspension, giving Klinsmann the chance to plug two of Kljestan,Cameron or Holden into Jones and Zusi's spots with Fabian Johnson pushing high or Johnson sliding to left back with Eddie Johnson coming into the team.