Photo courtesy of ISI Photos
CARSON, Calif. – Last fall, Rafa Márquez got a two-game suspension from his club for his misconduct in a playoff game and was held out of Mexican national team camp as further punishment.
Last week, Jermaine Jones was suspended for eight games by the German federation for stomping on an opponent’s leg; for his trouble, he was called into US national team camp by Jurgen Klinsmann.
A bit of a disconnect? It’s apples and oranges, says Klinsmann.
“Every player is different, every case is different,” the US manager told MLSsoccer.com outside the Home Depot Center on Wednesday. “[Jones] did something where he got punished heavily, which we think was very harsh based on what he did. He apologized to everyone involved and [he’s] not getting even the opportunity to play friendly games with his club team.”
Klinsmann saw Jones’ suspension as more of an opportunity, not only to get the hot-headed midfielder – who, in addition to the suspension, has earned seven yellow cards and one red for Schalke across all competitions this season – back into competitive action, but also to drop a player of his pedigree into the middle of a camp in which 13 of the 20 players have five or fewer caps for the USMNT.
“I think we have to give him a hand and we have to help him in this case,” Klinsmann said of Jones. “He helps us at the same time because, when we have a player coming from a Champions League team to this roster, the players within one training session see he’s on a different level.”
Jones arrived in Southern California on Monday evening from Germany and immediately joined his US teammates early Tuesday morning in their rigorous workouts at the Home Depot Center. He even went all 90 minutes in the squad’s scrimmage that evening against the US U-23s.
Klinsmann says Jones’ influence was felt in camp immediately – and reminded the mostly MLS-based squad that they must work extremely hard to reach what the German coach has deemed the optimum level to play international football.
“From the first second he flew in [Monday] night and the next morning he was on the field and trained like there was no nine-hour time difference,” he said. “And the players were just looking at him like, ‘Whoa.’ He’s helped us within a couple of days already to give the players based here mainly in MLS a broader picture.”
The 30-year-old Jones has appeared in 12 UEFA Champions League matches during his pro career with Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen, as well as five games in Europa League/UEFA Cup play.
He also has 14 caps for the US national team since switching his eligibility in October of 2009. He started in all six contests for the US in last summer's Gold Cup, scoring one goal and earning three yellows.