Just so everyone is clear, I am a fully behind the New England Revolution resigning midfielder Jermaine Jones. I debated this with comrade Nick Hemming earlier in the week and knowing that Jones wants a three year deal, essentially through the 2018 World Cup cycle, I'd still make the deal.
With that said, Jones' performances in the upcoming United State qualifiers against St. Vincent's (today, 7PM EST) and at Trinidad and Tobago (Nov. 17) could only help his cause for both club and country going forward.
One of the biggest problems with Jermaine Jones in 2015 is that he spent half the season recovering from two hernia surgeries, including one suffered in January camp with the USMNT. Jones missed all of preseason with the Revs and never seemed to get into a groove despite the Revs getting an immediate boost when he was back on the practice field in late summer.
Jones can certainly only benefit from the rare chance at extra games since his club season ended two weeks ago in the MLS Playoffs. Jones played 120 minutes at right midfield for the US against Mexico in a 3-2 loss against Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup playoff loss. He's been a versatile midfielder in his career and still has more than enough left in my opinion for both the Revs and the USMNT. But Jones might have an even bigger value than his abilities on the field.
Jurgen Klinsmann is at a crossroads with his current US roster. His stalwart holding midfielders in Jones and Kyle Beckerman are in the twilight of their international careers. Clint Dempsey isn't on the initial roster for these two games, DaMarcus Beasley could still be the best left-back in the pool not named Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley for some reason is still considered an attacking midfielder.
Klinsmann at this point seems to want to lean on his veterans while also introducing new and younger players into the senior US team, which isn't a bad idea. But without calling in younger holding midfielders like Will Trapp or veteran MLS players like Dax McCarty, Klinsmann is missing out on opportunities to help groom the next generation of players for the USMNT.
Jones could be invaluable on just the practice field alone, where his work ethic makes everyone around him better, and even as a defensive option off the bench late in games in more of a destroyer role late in his career internationally. He's always going to give his all when he's on the field and can still push his younger counterparts for playing time. But how long Jones will be effective on the international stage remains unclear.
But in the short term, Jermaine Jones has a rare opportunity in that his performances internationally could have an impact on his next contract and in particular, for the Revs to resign him. Jones getting minutes and impressing against St. Vincent's isn't probably going to change much, but with the USA's toughest match next week at Trinidad, Jones has a big chance to impress both Klinsmann and the Revolution.
I don't need to see Jones getting forward as much as he used too, but creating turnovers and starting counters is something he could still do when he's 50. If Jones does get minutes against an overmatched St. Vincent's side (I want to see a younger lineup holding the veterans out for Trinidad), his late runs forward on and off the ball could cause havoc and create multiple scoring chances for the US. Against Trinidad, Jones will tasked with shutting down Kenwyne Jones, the Soca Warriors star captain who plays in England with Cardiff City.
But most important, Jones simply has to make a positive impact. It doesn't have to be flashy, but the usual hard-working, defensive-minded Jones should be good enough to leave one last good impression for the Revs and USMNT coaching staffs going into 2016. Jermaine Jones is a solid player, and he doesn't need to show up in the box score to have a positive impact. Good defense, hustle and his diagonal crosses from midfield have served him well, especially in MLS with the Revs.
Jermaine Jones could still be a vital piece for the US during the 2018 World Cup cycle, but he doesn't always need to be on the field to show his importance. For the Revolution, just seeing Jones healthy and getting minutes internationally still means that he can play at a high level. The drive that Jones has to compete and win when he's on the field will never go away, it just perhaps needs to be channeled differently as Jones gets older. But the Revolution likely don't need to see much from Jones, it's all a matter of contract negotiations at this point. But a big performance in a World Cup qualifier can't hurt.
After all, his last moment for the Revs in 2015 is a red card for rushing referee Mark Geiger in the MLS Playoffs. Anything Jones does in these two qualifiers is likely going to be more positive than that.