JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Throughout the years, Jermaine Jones has been a sort of on-field enigma. These days, the questions surrounding the Colorado Rapids midfielder are more medical than tactical.
Jones was one of 26 players named to the U.S. national team roster for CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. That despite his last appearance for the Colorado Rapids coming on July 4, which led many to wonder what exactly his role will be as the US attempt to seal a place in the Hexagonal.
“He will come in here, we’ll evaluate it again and we’ll work [him] on the side of the team, and that’s what we’re doing,” US manager Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters prior to training Tuesday on the campus of the University of North Florida. “We’ll double-check with the trainers if it’s worth to get him on the field, or if we have to be patient for the next game.”
Klinsmann penciled Jones into the starting lineup for five of the six matches during this summer’s Copa America Centenario run. The dynamic midfielder was suspended for the semifinal loss to Argentina after picking up a straight red card in the Americans’ 2-1 quarterfinal win over Ecuador.
As the rest of the team stretched and participated in drills, Jones jogged around the field, occasionally checking in with a trainer. He has missed Colorado’s last eight matches after spraining his knee in a scoreless match against Portland in July.
Jones was not called up to the national team in March for World Cup qualifiers, but he was in the starting XI when the USMNT beat St. Vincent and The Grenadines 6-1 in St. Louis on Nov. 13 then tied Trinidad and Tobago four days later in Port of Spain.
Jones is one of three players in the current squad who went the full 90 minutes in each of the USMNT’s previous two visits to Florida’s First Coast. Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron are the others. Bradley is suspended for Friday’s match because of yellow-card accumulation.
“Not having Michael Bradley, not having Jermaine Jones, but that’s the way it always goes,” Klinsmann said. “In every kind of team sport you deal with injuries, you deal with other circumstances like suspensions in the case of Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco. We have a very strong group together to get into to the Hexagonal.”