Don’t look for any symbolism from Jones if he scores in the U.S. team’s World Cup group match against Germany, the country where he was born and raised, and the country he played three times for.
“If I score against Germany, I will maybe not celebrate,” Jones said. “I think it is respecting that I grew up in this country. They gave me a lot. I had my first caps for the national team in Germany.
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“I’m happy that (German national team manager) Joachim Lowe gives me this chance, but I will not celebrate if I score. But if somebody else scores,” Jones said with a laugh, “they can celebrate.”
The tradition of choosing not to celebrate goals scored against former teams isn’t that rare in soccer, but Jones admitted he has never scored against one of his old teams.
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“The only time I scored against my ex-team was when I had an own goal against Frankfurt, so I had no chance to celebrate that,” Jones quipped.
Jones expressed his excitement at realizing his lifelong dream of playing in a World Cup, and he also downplayed the fact that the current U.S. team has five German-American players on the team.
“I think it’s not important if you have five German-Americans or only two German-Americans,” Jones said. “We are part of a group and we have a good group and everything is good.
“Everybody is happy to play in this World Cup and it’s not a big deal if you are German-American or Icelandic-American or Norwegian-American,” Jones added. “You’re American and you try to do your best on the field."
Jones is coming off one of the best games of his U.S. national team career. Deployed on the left side of the three-midfield line in a 4-3-2-1, he had the freedom to surge into the attack, while also covering ground all over the field in support of his teammates. Jones has struggled at times with having too defensive a role for the U.S. team, but he insisted he can play the defensive-minded No. 6 role, though he would prefer to have more attacking freedom.
“I can play this position, the six, but I like to play in front, too,” Jones said. “Sometimes its difficult to put me in the six alone, but I would say that it’s nice that the coach let me try with Kyle (Beckerman) so I can go on the left side and go more in front. We will see what happens.”
Whether deployed in the same formation used against Nigeria, or set out in a more traditional defensive midfield role, Jones looks like a safe bet to start for the Americans against Ghana. His toughness and work rate in midfield will be vital in trying to stop a stacked Ghana midfield, and as he showed against Nigeria, when given the freedom to attack, he can have an impact on both sides of the field.
That profile is very similar to that of Michael Bradley, who has taken on a more attacking role as of late. Jones and Bradley working in unison will be key to the team’s success, and after having been teammates for five years now, Jones considers Bradley one of the people on the team he’s closest with.
“Me and Michael say always that he’s my brother from another mother,” Jones said. “We have a good relationship. I was close with his dad, Bob Bradley, too. We understand when we have something, if somebody has a problem, we can talk always. It’s a good friendship.”