CHESTER, Pa. – As a German resident, Jermaine Jones admits it’s not always easy to keep up on what’s going on in Major League Soccer.
But on Tuesday, a day before his FC Schalke 04 team was set to play the Philadelphia Union in an international friendly at PPL Park, Jones spoke highly of MLS while expressing interest in perhaps one day playing professionally in America.
Jones – who grew up in Germany but whose father is American – has been a key member of the US national team for the past three years.
“I definitely want to continue to play high-end, high-level soccer in Europe or Germany,” Jones said though a translator during a press conference that also included Schalke manager Huub Stevens. “But we’re looking into the United States in terms of possibly moving here. I’ve looked with my family for homes in LA, so we’re definitely interested to possibly move into this direction – professionally, but also not right away.”
Jones will get a small taste of MLS on Wednesday for a much-anticipated exhibition match vs. the Union (7:30 pm ET). And while mostly unfamiliar with the league, Jones does have experience playing at PPL Park (he made his second national team appearance in Philadelphia’s home stadium in a friendly against Colombia in 2010) and with Union midfielder Freddy Adu, one of his close friends.
Jones also believes that Bundesliga clubs will begin to come to America more now that German-born Jurgen Klinsmann is in charge of the US national teams.
“Since several American players are in the Bundesliga and with Klinsmann as national team coach, I definitely see more of a connection there and the possibility for German teams coming here,” Jones said.
Stevens – who managed FC Schalke to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga just two weeks ago – added that it doesn’t make sense why German clubs don’t come to the United States as much as teams from England or Spain, for instance.
For the German manager, it was an easy decision to come play in Philadelphia – a game that was facilitated in part due to the relationship of Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt and Union manager Peter Nowak, former teammates with 1860 Munich.
“Coming to America itself is already an incentive,” Stevens said. “It’s great to be here. The other teams in Europe have a lot of German players, so I don’t see why teams like Bayern Munich wouldn’t be able to come here. I don’t see why that wouldn’t be happening.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.