Jermaine Jones hasn't been busy. The Schalke midfielder is serving an eight-match suspension for a stomp on Marco Reus so instead of letting him lay around for two months, United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has called him into the team's January camp that will lead into friendlies against Venezuela and Panama. Well, he's busy now.
"Obviously this is a very difficult moment for Jermaine. He regrets the incident and has apologized to the player, his coaches and his teammates. He respects the decision of the German Federation and accepts the punishment," Klinsmann said in a statement. "While an unfortunate situation, it provides me the opportunity to call him in and continue to get him integrated with our system as we prepare the team for qualifying this summer. I have spoken with the coach at Schalke and Jermaine, and we all agree this is what’s best."
Because the matches and camp don't fall on a FIFA international date, the only players available to Klinsmann are those who are out of season. That means a bunch of MLS players or some playing in Scandinavian leagues on break and the occasional out of favor player. Well, now we add suspended player to that mix, which actually leaves the U.S. with a strong central midfield. Jones will join Benny Feilhaber, Kyle Beckerman and Ricardo Clark in the center, while up-and-comer Graham Zusi is also with the team.
The U.S. will take on Venezuela at 9 p.m. ET on January 21 in Glendale, AZ and Panama at 8:30 p.m. ET on January 25 in Panam City, Panama. Both matches will be available to watch in English on ESPN3 and on TV in Spanish on Galavision in the United States.