Jurgen Klinsmann is a big believer in playing time. So why did the US national team coach, ahead of two crucial World Cup qualifiers against his side's biggest regional rivals, call in an 35-year-old midfielder who has played just once for his club since July 4?
Because Jermaine Jones is healthy again and has already proven himself time and again at the international level, Klinsmann told Fox Sports' Rob Stone on Sunday, while announcing his roster for Friday's Hexagonal opener against Mexico and Tuesday's trip to Costa Rica.
"Jermaine Jones is a player that, when he's on the field, other teams simply fear him," Klinsmann said. "Other teams just simply respect him a lot. There's the body language. There's his energy. There's the dynamic approach to everything he's doing. He's just elevating the games with his presence, and that's why – to have him just in our roster, and I'm not saying that he's playing from the beginning on against Mexico – but just having him with us is huge for us. So thankfully he made it on time."
Jones spent the latter half of the Colorado Rapids' season recovering from a knee injury, but turned in a strong 82-minute outing on Sunday as his club moved on to the Western Conference final – prevailing 3-1 on penalties against the LA Galaxy after the two-legged semifinal ended in a 1-1 deadlock on aggregate.
"With Jermaine, it's been quite a patient process," Klinsmann said. "I spoke many times to [Rapids manager] Pablo Mastroeni about his physical fitness, about his progress, and I'm just thrilled that he's back."
Jones' return to the national side is especially needed with Real Salt Lake veteran Kyle Beckerman unavailable for selection, Klinsmann said.
"Kyle is not in the camp because he's physically not doing well," he said. "We had a long talk, and he's always there when you need, Kyle Beckerman, and we spoke, and he's just not 100 percent right now. And I can only take, really, players into these very, very intense 10 days that are 100 percent fit.
"That's why I went to Denver today to see the Rapids play the Galaxy, in order to see Jermaine Jones, and I have to say I was thrilled to see him [play] 82 minutes on the field. I think he was the best player on the field today."
Klinsmann chalked up another midfield decision – the exclusion of Portland's Darlington Nagbe – to Nagbe's current place on the US' depth chart.
"Darlington right now is simply just behind other guys," he said. "We are always a big fan of Darlington, and at the end of the day when you call in a roster, it's always about, 'Where do we see everyone in the ranking of the team, in the positions? Maybe because of the likes of a Christian Pulisic breaking through, a Lynden Gooch breaking through. Sacha Kljestan, using his big chance two months ago, is suddenly now a fixture in the team again.
"Unfortunately, as a coach you're in a position where you have to leave other players out."