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Jones Embraces Playing Center Back with USMNT, Midfield for the Revs

As he learns to play center back with the US National Team, Jermaine Jones takes solace in knowing that he will play midfield for the New England Revolution.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Jermaine Jones is stuck between two worlds. With the New England Revolution, he’s a midfielder, a position that he’s long proven to excel at. Meanwhile with the US National Team, he’s an emerging center back.

The experiment to move Jones to the backline was the brainchild of coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who believed the shift could help prolong the 33-year-old’s international career. Jones, who was presented with the idea shortly after the World Cup, was originally surprised by the plan, especially considering his highly-acclaimed performances in Brazil. With time, however, he saw the advantages to playing as a defender.

"Maybe I can help the team from the back more," Jones said in an interview with Steve Davis of ESPN’s Soccer Today. "We have still some young kids coming in midfield."

Jones is fully embracing his new international role, telling Soccer Today that he's "not scared of it." He went on to say that he hopes to play in the 2018 World Cup, either as a midfielder or defender.

The German-American has now featured as a center back in two international games, first in a 1-1 draw against Honduras and then in a 2-1 loss to Colombia. The transition has been a learning experience for Jones, who has played almost exclusively as a holding midfielder during his 15-year career.

"It’s not my best position but I try to make the best from it," Jones said of playing center back. "Maybe I need some couple games to be 100% at that position and feel good in that position."

Though his role with the national team might be changing, Jones doesn’t anticipate any adjustments at the club level. Operating as a central midfielder, Jones was instrumental in the Revolution’s run to the MLS Cup Final. In sum, the Revs went 11-2-2 in games where Jones was on the field.

While he’s happy to play center back with the national team, Jones feels a certain level of comfort knowing that he will return to his preferred position when back in Foxboro.

"It makes me happy that I know always that I can go back to New England and that I play midfield there, my position that I love," Jones explained.