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Exploring the Jermaine Jones conundrum. Again.

Jun 19, 2013, 4:17 PM EDT

Honduras v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY – One major thread coming out of last night’s match was whether Jermaine Jones knows his role? SI’s Grant Wahl asked that very question, and it certainly seems worth exploring.

Jurgen Klinsmann has worked and worked to improve the communication, understanding and awareness between Jones and Michael Bradley, with gradually improving results until last night. Given how tactically aware Bradley has always been, and considering how he has clearly emerged as this team’s midfield control room, it seems fair to say any fissures in this important midfield relationship are more Jones’ problem than Bradley’s to sort out.

In Klinsmann’s lexicon, Jones is a “Number 6,” which means holding midfielder. Bradley is the “No. 8,” which means linking man and supporting, defensive midfielder.

If Bradley is already forward in a sequence, Jones has to protect the midfield. Period. Absent of that disciplined, tactical protection, the betters of world soccer will ruthlessly punish the United States. Roger Espinoza nearly did so last night, even with a depleted Honduran lineup around him.

Klinsmann has long protected Jones against a chorus of public grousing, adjudging that the German-born midfielder’s positives (leadership qualities and ball-winning abilities, mostly) mitigate the negatives (too many midfield turnovers, mostly). But stronger teams than Honduras are out there and will certainly be among the field of 32 next year in Brazil.

It’s on Jones to clean up that part of his game – especially as Geoff Cameron emerges as yet another option for the position.

(MORE: When the game gets more technical and tactical, Jones’ game suffers)

(MORE: Klinsmann elaborates on his regard for Jones)

  1. interesting29 - Jun 19, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Agreed that Jones did not have a good game last night, thought before his concussion, he was excellent than before.

  2. philneezy - Jun 19, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Jones has been our best player after Bradley for most of the year. It’s neither player’s fault that Klinsmann randomly decided to have Bradley basically man-mark Espinoza for the first half. It was quite an incredibly stupid decision.

  3. dfstell - Jun 19, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Are we sure that Jones’ head was in working order last night? I mean, the guy got knocked unconscious in Jamaica. It could be he got his head jiggled during the game last night and wasn’t really himself. Not saying that is the case, but it would explain why he was all over the place after being so much better disciplined recently.

  4. pjbowmaster - Jun 19, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    I’m not a Jones’s guy…….but I didn’t like the look in his eyes during the anthem. In fairness, I throw that performance out of the evaluation. He just was not recovered properly.

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