CHICAGO – US national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan walked up to teammate Jermaine Jones and delivered a message just before Tuesday’s Copa America Centenario game against Costa Rica.
“He said, ‘Lead the team,’” Jones later recalled.
Jones did just that.
Coming off a loss to Colombia in which didn't play his best, was subbed off in the second half and openly expressed his frustration, Jones bounced back in a big way. The Colorado Rapids star flipped the script with a man-of-the-match display in the USMNT’s 4-0 win at Soldier Field on Tuesday.
“Some players really stepped it up,” US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Jermaine was one of them today, putting his stamp on his game. Kind of hearing the message with Michael [Bradley] in the midfield, ‘That is our game, that is our three points.’ We want to put ourselves in the driver’s seat for the last game against Paraguay. That’s what those two guys did in the middle of the park. They have every right to enjoy that moment.”
Jones was effective all over the field on Tuesday. He broke up chances. He created chances. And on one play in the first half, he did both and was rewarded for it.
Jones forced a turnover near midfield, deflecting a Costa Rica pass and hustling to win possession for the US. He got up, hustled down the field, received a pass from Clint Dempsey and drilled a fine angled finish into the bottom right corner of the net with his right foot.
Afterwards Jones revealed his disappointment at missing the target on a previous attempt.
“It’s always nice to score goals, but I hoped the first one would go in and it went over,” Jones said. “I was trying to keep going. I always say I like to go forward. If I get an opportunity, I try to score. When I saw the ball was in, I was happy.”
While others may see redemption in Jones bouncing back from the Colombia match, Jones said he didn’t enter Tuesday’s game with any additional individual motivation. Having been around the block a few times, the 34-year-old veteran's view of his own game is different.
“For me, I know a lot of people talk outside, but to be honest, I don’t care what people are saying,” Jones said. “I’m too long in this business. I know that people talk a lot. You have to take it. If you play good, people talk good. If you play bad, you have to take it. I try to always give my best. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s not. Today I’m happy the team played a good game.”