WASHINGTON -- Michael Bradley's return to the U.S. national team ahead of Sunday's friendly against Germany is a welcome development for the USA as a whole, but especially one player in particular: Central midfield partner Jermaine Jones.
One of the team's leaders on and off the field, Bradley had been with AS Roma for the Coppa Italia final and had to miss Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Belgium before rejoining the team in the nation's capital. In Bradley's absence, Jones partnered with Sacha Kljestan, acting in more of a defensive-minded midfield role and distributing from deeper than his preferred two-way role. With Bradley coming back into the fold, Jones is more apt to be able to roam higher up the field and get more involved in the attack.
"Michael's a good player, and I think that maybe it's better when he can more hold the back and give me space to go in front," Jones said following the USA's public training session on Saturday. "In the last game it was a little bit different. I was the guy to stay more in and Sacha was the guy who could go.
"For me it's better when Michael is there and I get my time to go in front."
Jones, who became the first American to score in the Champions League knockout stage since U.S. teammate DaMarcus Beasley did in 2005, displayed his attacking prowess during Saturday's training session by scoring the lone goal in a full team scrimmage. He won the ball with a slide tackle, made a move to create space and finished accurately, much to the delight of the scattered crowd at RFK Stadium.
Jones acknowledged that it took a little while to establish understanding and familiarity with Kljestan as his midfield partner Wednesday, but with him facing off against his native Germany with Bradley by his side, that familiarity and role awareness should already be well established prior to the opening whistle.
"It's normal," Jones said. "With Michael I've played a lot of games, with Sacha I don't play so much, I think maybe the second time. It's normal that you need to find [your role] when you play against teams like Belgium, it's sometimes hard."