Yesterday, we reported on Jermaine Jones' suspension possibly holding up a move to Germany. Jones is out of contract with the New England Revolution and currently in training camp with the United States ahead of international friendlies with Iceland and Canada.
But there was confusing information in the initial report, so we reached out to US Soccer and a spokesperson was able to clarify and confirm Jones' international status during his suspension. Per US Soccer, Jones' suspension does not begin until his club team, in MLS or otherwise, plays it's first official game. The reason for my confusion is explained in detail below, and because there's a lot of possible scenarios so it's easy to mix them up.
In the middle of the initial AP report, and found here on FOX Soccer, was a curious phrase regarding international suspensions:
Because suspensions prohibit a player from participating in any soccer competition, Jones also will be ineligible for U.S. national team games while under contract to a club team and serving his suspension. Since he doesn't have a club team, he is eligible to play for coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the American friendlies against Iceland on Sunday and Canada on Feb. 5.
This prompted a bit of a conspiracy theory that Jones remains unsigned with MLS so that he is eligible internationally for the next two games.
Break down of JJ predicament. He definitely won't sign with a club before 2/5 because it would prevent play for US https://t.co/FbmgUe2iHj— NERevs Rumors (@NERevsRumor) January 28, 2016
The reason why I questioned the AP report and asked for clarification is the specific notion that since Jones is an unattached player, he is eligible to play internationally despite his suspension. While that is technically true, the fact is that Jones has yet to begin to serve his suspension and if he resigned in MLS prior to the Iceland and Canada friendlies, he would still be eligible as the MLS season has not yet started.
So if Jones is an MLS player at the beginning of the season, he would miss both World Cup Qualifying matches against Guatemala. However, Jones' six-game ban for referee assault would still be served even if he didn't resign in MLS, and Jones would also be ineligible for any international games during that time as well.
Another example, if Jones were to have signed overseas prior to the international friendlies against Iceland and Canada, and that new team played an official match before January 31st, he would be in the middle of serving his suspension and thus ineligible to play in international games.
Essentially, the fact that Jones is out of contract does not have any specific bearing on his international status. Even if Jones was under contract with the Revolution today, he'd still be eligible to play for the United States until the MLS season starts in March.