Asking a U.S. soccer fan how they feel about Jermaine Jones is typically akin to asking someone how they feel about Kanye West: you either praise his genius or loathe his personality and inconsistency. At 34, most fans thought this tournament would be the ideal time to introduce a new face into the center of the midfield, a destroyer or a transition mid or...well, just someone else, really. That quickly proved not to be the case, as Jones played in all but one of the U.S. games and, in general, didn’t play half bad, either.
Defensive Actions: 25
As you can kind of see from the statistics, Jones did it all. He scored a goal against Costa Rica, provided a beautiful assist to Clint Dempsey against Ecuador, and still tracked runners all over the field. A defensive action is quantified as a tackle, defensive block, interception, clearance, or recovery of possession. Jones had a lot of them. With Michael Bradley playing underneath him as a 6, Jones was freed up to seek and destroy at will, breaking up the rhythm of opposing midfields and trying to start counterattacks. Truth be told, he did it pretty well, and still has quite an engine for 34.
Jones frequently makes bad decisions. I know this. You know this. He hacks players down when he doesn’t really need to. He gets in the faces of referees. He makes himself unlikable for some people. And that’s alright sometimes. Many really, really great teams had players like that: Edgar Davids, Gennaro Gattuso, Roy Keane. Jermaine Jones is not on the level of the aforementioned players in terms of overall quality, however, which makes some of his antics more frustrating.
Look, I don’t think that’s a red card, but when you are a professional soccer player and you put your hand into the face of another player after a foul, you’re taking your life and putting it into the referee’s hands. Jones did that, and he missed the game where we probably needed him the most because of it.
Copa Grade: B
Some extremely good showings (against Costa Rica, the first half agaisnt Ecuador, and Colombia part 2) could have made this a high grade, but the lackluster opener and the red card against Ecuador means what could’ve been an A got knocked back down to the "pretty ok" seats.
This is the third time I’ve said this, but here it goes again: Jones is 34. If Klinsmann is planning on riding him all the way to Russia, he better have plenty left in the tank, or else qualifying and beyond could be very long. Good thing Jones is training at altitude these days, and has helped make the Rapids the frontrunner in MLS for the first time in...well, a really long time. Those guys have won an MLS Cup and they weren’t even the frontrunner then. He’s got competition for his spot in the form of Darlington Nagbe, however, so he’ll need to push himself to his limit if he wants to keep his starting spot with the U.S. and not be a liability.