SAO PAULO – They may have only spent four months together at Schalke 04 this season, but that didn’t keep Jermaine Jones and Kevin Prince-Boateng from becoming fast friends.
And on Monday when Jones and the USA meet Prince-Boateng and Ghana in both team’s opening Group G match in Natal (6 pm ET, ESPN), the combative American midfielder will likely draw the task of shutting down his fellow dual international.
But don’t expect Jones to heap too much praise on the man who scored the opener in the US’ 2-1 knockout stage defeat four years ago. Once the whistle blows at Arena das Dunas, friendship goes out the window.
“I have a lot of respect for this boy and what he does in the teams where he plays,” Jones told reporters “But for that 90 minutes, I don’t care what goes on with him or what he does. I want to win that game, and that’s the point.”
The question a little more than 24 hours before gametime is whether Jones’ pal will be 100 percent fit come kick off.
While the US’ is largely without any fitness concerns, Prince-Boateng was held out of recent training sessions after picking up a knock against South Korea in Miami. He’s still expected to play against the US, however, the layoff simply a precaution rather than cause for real concern.
No matter who Jones lines up against, though, he said the US shouldn’t be particularly concerned about their opponents. Sure, the Black Stars are talented. Yes, they’ve got pace. But Jones passed on sharing any of the scouting report head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and World Cup advisor Berti Vogts have compiled.
“You don’t have to make so much focus on Ghana. We have to make the focus on ourselves,” he said. “If everybody works for the team and does what they have to do, then I’m 100 percent sure that we will win that game.”
And has Jones communicated that message to Prince-Boateng, especially in light of the confident comments coming out of the Ghana camp ahead of what Klinsmann has equated to a knockout game?
Nope. If the Black Stars want bulletin-board material, they’ll have to look elsewhere.
“I always made the trash talk when I was 18 or 19, so I will wait until the game comes and I will see him before the game comes so we will talk a little bit,” Jones said. “Maybe we will have a little more contact after the game. Maybe when we win, then I’ll do some trash talk. I’ll wait first for the game.”