Skip to content

Breakfast with United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann: Today’s topic – explaining Jermaine Jones

Dec 4, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

Jermaine Jones

I was among a small group of journalists who had breakfast late last week with Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. national team coach whose methods and player selection tendencies can sometimes lean to the less conventional. The results so far have been mostly favorable, even if the aesthetic hasn’t always risen to expectation.

Over the next week or so, we will extract one element of the extremely informative conversation, where Klinsmann expanded candidly on subjects ranging from Jozy Altidore to evolving player roles to Jermaine Jones to future matches and all points in between.

Today’s topic: Jermaine Jones

I have written these words before: “What Jurgen Klinsmann continues to see in Jermaine Jones, only he can say.”

Well now Klinsmann has said. And his explanation makes pretty good sense.

Where we see the imprecise passes and a combustible type who is a yellow card waiting to happen, Klinsmann sees the cumulative effect of a midfield cop on the beat – the guy you want on your side when the you-know-what comes down.

Said Klinsmann: “I know that a lot of people here look differently at Jermaine Jones … but his presence is a big plus for us …. It’s just a different type of player than you are used to seeing here in the U.S., that’s why some people struggle to kind of evaluate Jermaine Jones. Which is fine. That’s no problem.”

The bottom line on Jones, the hard-tackling central midfielder from Germany’s FC Schalke 04, is that whatever technical deficiencies drag down his game, Jones makes up in presence, infectious professional approach, chemistry and a certain intimidation factor the team misses otherwise.

“If it looks nice, or not, it doesn’t really matter,” Klinsmann said. “Job accomplished.”

Klinsmann, like many coaches, is big on establishing a positive group dynamic – not one bit surprising considering that Klinsmann is such a positive fellow.  He knows that any group – your peers at work or your Wednesday poker game or whatever – has leaders and followers and a certain collective psychology.

Everything Jones does, from his attitude at the team hotel (“He’s comes here with a big smile, and he’s ready to work. ‘What is this [camp] about? Who are we taking on?’ That’s what you want.”) to the practice field to the comprehensive game-day process, Jones is a man’s man with weapons grade gravitas. Think of him as the muscled up dude you want around while walking a sketchy neighborhood; there’s a feeling that all is OK with this back alley brawler in tow.

Jones comes from a bad neighborhood, Klinsmann mentions, and he is always ready for the proverbial fight, whether that be an actual donnybrook, a fight for his starting position or a fight to keep the intensity in the red the zone in practice sessions.

Said Klinsmann: “He brings the group to another level … and he’s proud of that!”

As for game days, I see what everyone else sees: a central midfielder sometimes careless with the ball, whose sometimes-labored passing can stall the attack. Klinsmann sees that too, and they continually work the system to protect against or improve the deficient areas. (Tactically, Jones gets more freedom to take chances at Schalke. So that’s always an adjustment, Klinsmann concedes.)

But it’s the intangible that Klinsmann truly appreciates:

“He is one of those players that no opponent would like to deal with. There are payers who, when you see them on the field, the opponent struggles with. It’s like, ‘Shoot, this guy again?’ Just his presence. His hunger. [Opponents may say] ‘Shoot! Do I need that today?’ ”

source:

Klinsmann mentioned the historic summer win over Mexico in Azteca, how the Mexicans’ approach seems different with Jones is around. They know where Jones is –and they aren’t in a hurry to get there.

“It’s his willingness not to let go. He is always ready for the grind. He grinds you until the 95th minute. That’s something, this mental presence that exists on the field, it’s not necessarily what you see when from the stands, when you see passes completed, duels won and all that … this is what you see in terms of chemistry, in terms of grinding on the field, and it’s only something the players sense.”

Klinsmann says opponents may step back two yards when Jones is around, and that it has a dual effect. Opposition teammates notice and may hesitate similarly, primitive, subconscious traces of self-preservation at work. Meanwhile, U.S. men feed off this razor-wire intensity and sharpen their own approach.

So there you have it. It’s OK if you do not agree with Klinsmann’s rationale here – but it is nice to hear how the contentious “Jones Variable” fits into the bigger equation in the coach’s mind.

TOMORROW: Klinsmann’s coming talks with Landon Donovan

Latest Posts
  1. Arteta: Arsenal “didn’t perform well enough” at Borussia Dortmund

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    mikel_arteta_ciro_immobile

    Arsenal’s captain notes the danger of falling behind at BVB, while Klopp calls his teams performance “nearly perfection.”

  2. UEFA Champions League roundup: Liverpool win late; Real Madrid, Dortmund victorious

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Contrasting fortunes for PL sides, as eight games kick off the new UCL season. Find out what happened, right here.

  3. Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal: Gunners outclassed by BVB

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    ciro_immobile AP

    A dominant performance from the 2012-13 finalists made easy work of the visiting Gunners.

  4. Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets: Gerrard grabs last-gasp winner after scare

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Dramatic finale at Anfield as Liverpool leave it late to beat Bulgarian minnows.

  5. Premier League player of month on pace for 67 goals (video)

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Chelsea Training & Press Conference Getty Images

    Okay, so it’s 66.5 goals but you know the rules of rounding and Diego Costa is your proverbial example of being on fire.

  6. LIVE – Champions League half time update: Real Madrid flying, Arsenal losing

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Marek Suchy AP

    Real fly out of the traps, while Arsenal are caught on their heels. Updates on all eight games, right here.

  7. When Frank Lampard met Men In Blazers

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT

    Source: New York City FC Source: New York City FC

    Remember that time Jose Mourinho told Frank Lampard he was the best player in the world … in the shower? No? Oh, right. That’s because you have to watch this.

  8. Orlando City announces retention of 7 players for first MLS season

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    OrlandoCitySC.com OrlandoCitySC.com

    Kaka was obvious, but who else is making the move from USL PRO to Major League Soccer next season?

  9. Open Cup final preview: Is a championship coming to Philly tonight?

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Brad Evans, Maurice Edu AP

    The fairly-even history between Philadelphia and Seattle meets at a momentous crossroads tonight at PPL Park in Chester.

  10. AP Global 10 poll hails Atletico as Champions League group stage opens

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Diego Simeone AP

    Manchester United, Aston Villa leap up the list after impressive wins on the weekend.

  11. From the Bundesliga to the WWE? How fan furor made GK a bodybuilder

    Sep 16, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    wiese1

    The jacked-up keeper was released by Hoffenheim last season as his body became too muscular to stand between the sticks (at least according to the club).

  12. Van Basten steps down from AZ Alkmaar post after heart issues

    Sep 16, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - "Marco van Basten change of position" Getty Images

    In a very odd twist, he’s going to stay on as assistant manager to Alex Pastoor, a former assistant.

  13. Arsenal’s defending depth fears could be on display against Dortmund

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Sky Sports Sky Sports

    Know the name Hector Bellerin? Odds are you will after today’s match-up between Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.

  14. Rio: Twenty mins after David Moyes was fired, lads wanted banned fish and chips back

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    The Telegraph The Telegraph

    With all the post-match fish-and-chips testing done around the Premier League, they couldn’t just, you know, eat fish and chips and get away with it.

  15. UEFA Champions League group stage: PST staff’s preview and predictions

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

    Portugal Soccer Champions League Final AP

    Who picked Manchester City to win its tough group, and who said they’d fail to survive their opposition?

  16. Swiss goalkeeper drinks urine, considering law suit against pranksters

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT

    TeleM1 TeleM1

    How was this caper achieved? Was a security guard in on the act? Was an identical water bottle substituted?

  17. Benteke boost for 2nd place Aston Villa; training, could be back soon

    Sep 16, 2014, 7:22 AM EDT

    Aston Villa v Norwich City - Premier League Getty Images

    Villa will take on Arsenal without Christian Benteke this weekend, but the forward could be back by the end of the month.

  18. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 4

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT

    Southampton v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    It was a week so fertile for goals that one of the world’s biggest names couldn’t dent the strike force of the PL team of the week.

  19. Premier League player of the week — Round 4

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    No one’s doing it quite like this man right now, who again takes hold of player of the week honors in the Premier League.

  20. Premier League Round 4: Goals of the week (VIDEO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    There are five goals here, but it only took four matches to comprise the list.

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap