The veteran scored a spectacular equalizer and enjoyed another strong performance winning balls in midfield.For a player of his pedigree, Jermaine Jones hasn't always been held in high esteem by U.S. national team fans. He tries to do too much. He's reckless in tackling. He's careless on the ball. And so on.
But two games into this World Cup, there has been no more reliable player to the U.S. national team than Jones. After leading the American effort against Ghana with a dominant effort winning tackles, the 32-year-old again was a force in midfield during Sunday's 2-2 draw with Portugal.
While midfield grit is a staple of Jones' game, goals aren't. Yet he bagged one of the tournament's most spectacular strikes in the 64th minute when he collected a loose ball at the top of the box, took a touch and curled a physics-defying shot inside the far post.
In 43 U.S. caps, it's his third international goal — and first in more than two years.
Although the USA was gutted to not take the full three points following a late Portugal equalizer from Silvestre Varela, there was still plenty to admire about the American outing. Matt Besler was strong at center back, racking up 12 clearances (no one else had more than five). Fabian Johnson's overlapping runs sparked the U.S. attack. Kyle Beckerman (55 for 61 passing) was his usual steady self. And Clint Dempsey scored another clutch goal.
But beyond the goal, Jones' numbers were impressive as well. His passing clip of 36 for 47 was solid, especially considering the number of ambitious long balls he mixed in to good effect. He won eights duels to lead the team for the second straight game, and chipped in three interceptions and three recoveries.
Top to bottom, it was a complete performance from Jones. After committing to the U.S. program in 2009 following three caps with Germany, the Frankfurt native has made the most of his long-awaited first World Cup.
And at this point, his lingering critics have turned awfully quiet.