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American soccer is still reeling from the worst night in its history, a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago that eliminated it from 2018 World Cup contention. One player notably absent on that night was Jermaine Jones.
In fact, Jones, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, hasn’t been called into a U.S. squad since March, and was clearly no longer in Bruce Arena’s plans as qualifying winded down. But he was watching. Oh, he was definitely watching. And he has some thoughts in the wake of the U.S.’s failure.
He shared one thought immediately after the Yanks went down in Trinidad:
And everybody talked shit about Jürgen!!! Ridiculous stupid…. man I get too much!!! I feel sorry for the boys!
— Jermaine Jones (@Jermainejunior) October 11, 2017
He shared more in an Instagram Live video on Friday. The 14-minute monologue largely focused on American players taking paydays in MLS rather than challenging themselves in better, more competitive European leagues. Here’s the video, which isn’t quite a rant, and is actually pretty thoughtful:
– Jones doesn’t think the U.S.’s next coach should come from MLS. He wants somebody “with a name and a strong personality.”
– He rattled off a list of players who, five and 10 years ago, challenged themselves in Europe. “Now, I feel like we make it too easy for the younger generation,” he said. “The younger generation have to be hungry too, to say, I want to play Champions League, in Italy, in Germany, in England, in Scotland, and battle day for day for you position. … That’s not against MLS, but it’s good for our national team.”
– He wants the new U.S. coach to come in and say, “Look, I know you play in MLS, but I wanna see you, at a good age of 20, go to Europe and get that last bit out of you, fighting every day for your position, and get better. And if you decided to make the big contract in MLS, the national team coach have the right to say, OK, I respect that, but I want to see the national team in a different way, I want to win games, I want to go to every World Cup … that has to be the next step – with all the respect to the MLS coaches.”
– “[Christian] Pulisic comes back, and everybody puts their hands up and say, this is the man, he has to bring us to the World Cup. But why is it only him? He’s 19, he decided with his family to go the hardest way, and he made it. But I want to see more kids hungry like that. Don’t go just the easy way.”
– Jones reiterated multiple times that he has nothing against MLS. After all, he plays there. It’s just that the European leagues push players to improve.
– “The national team coach, you have 12 days. In these 12 days, you play two games. You need players who you can pick, and you can throw in, and you don’t have to teach them where they have to run. And that was what Jurgen said. … It’s tough to bring some players in from MLS, and you have to teach them the easy soccer thinking. That’s the problem. … If you take a 25-, 26-[year-old] player in MLS and you compare him to a 19-, 20-[year-old] player in Europe, the Europe player is, in his head, farther already. And that’s not good.”
– Jones seemed to praise Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent, teenagers who have gone to Schalke and Werder Bremen, respectively.
– Jones, of course, is himself one of the many American players who came back to MLS during the second half of his career. But at the end, he seemed to clarify that his criticism is of younger players who never go to Europe, not the ones who come back. “They come back to MLS and they got big contracts,” he said. “But why they got big contracts? [Because of] where they played, in Roma, in Everton … and then they get that respect.”
– The one specific story Jones tells is the best part. He says Klinsmann asked him to call Jordan Morris, who was deciding between going to Germany to play with Werder Bremen and staying at home with the Seattle Sounders. Jones says he called Morris and encouraged him to go to the Bundesliga. But he says that Morris told him, “I want to go home, my dad is a doctor in Seattle, and my mom, they bought me and my girlfriend a dog.” Jones looks into the camera dumbfounded at this point. “Really? Why you go the easy way when you have the chance?”
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.