So last week MLSsoccer.com’s Matt Doyle used the Jermaine Jones-Mike Bradley pairing against Panama as a chew toy. Yesterday, Jermaine Jones took some very bad advice, and responded.
Full disclosure – I have known Matt for several years. He is, without question, the most insanely evil person I’ve ever met, seen, or heard of. He feasts on the flesh of the innocent, and washes it down with puppy blood. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I saw ol’ Matt guzzling down puppy after the other. “You sure can go through the puppies,” I said to him once. He just smiled and grabbed another puppy.
So anyway, Jermaine Jones got wind of Matt’s article, and shrugged it off as just part of the ups and downs of being a professional athlete.
Just kidding! Comedy blog! Wakka wakka wakka! No, he reacted as if – well, as if Matt suggested taking away a huge chunk of his livelihood. I wouldn’t like it if Matt went to my place of employment and slapped the clown makeup out of my hands.
Jermaine Tweeted his resentment, promised and reconsidered an Instagram rebuttal, and got himself a yellow card against Vancouver. Order seemed restored…until Max Bretos and Herculez Gomez decided to give him a call.
You have probably read the quotes by now. They read like Jermaine took an ego trip to a pity party, but his tone of voice wasn’t quite as bad as it looks on the screen.
…not that they look great.
"To the haters, you know, I am not hating. I don't care if they hate me or not," said a man who went on a podcast to complain about criticism. “I have played over 15 years in Europe in high level, not 10, not five years, not one year. Sometimes it's tough to look at numbers. I want to prove people wrong, but I think if you look [at] the numbers, there is nobody who can say, 'Oh I played over 30 Champions League games in club level' and that is important. And if you look at the numbers, you can not lie.”
This isn’t a debate, Jermaine. I’m not here to debate you. Ain’t nobody on the Panama team played 15 years in Europe or in 30 Champions League games, either. And not to put too fine a point on it, but Trinidad isn’t calling up Dwight Yorke anymore. Mexico keeps snubbing Hugo Sanchez. It’s not Jermaine’s decision in the first place, and we’re not going to wait for Kellyn Acosta or whoever to play 15 years in Europe before Jones is out. Jones is seizing on a very specific set of statistics to refute criticism he claims he doesn’t care about.
I’d also prefer it if the best player on the team didn’t give podcast interviews where “My talent entitles me to be a locker room cancer” isn’t the subtext AT BEST. Sure, he may have been genuinely sincere with his respect for Christian Pulisic playing in Europe. He may not have even imagined that he was slighting Jordan Morris in particular, and damn near every other teammate except Tim Howard in general, with those cracks about playing fifteen years in Europe. I may be the only man, woman or child in the nation who is making that inference.
But most of the articles I’ve read about Jermaine’s remarks cut out a pretty significant phrase. Cue it up to 31:03, where Herc interrupts Jones, recipient of targeted allocation money and a formerly-retired jersey number from the highest profile team in MLS, complaining that he is unable to be sold as a product because he is German-American.
“Jermaine, do you think you don’t get the respect you deserve?”
“Oh, definitely!” said the man who two minutes before claimed being hated was a sign of fear and success. “If you see what I did? Definitely. ….You say that people always say that me and Michael don’t fit together. At the end of the day, the criticism is always on me. Everybody tries it, if we lose the game, they always try to find the next guy who can play for Jermaine. It is never somebody else, it is always me.
"And sometimes, I'll be honest, it pisses me off. I say, wait a minute! When we play the big tournament, I am almost always the best player on the field for this country, but then, end of the day, they try to kick me out when we lose games? That is not fair, you know? I cannot change it. I know what it is."
Now, Herc asked about Michael Bradley two separate times before this, and of course Matt Doyle’s article may have mentioned Bradley and Jones’ teamwork in passing. So it’s understandable that Bradley was in Jermaine’s thoughts on the topic.
But best player on the team or not (and remember, this is in response to a growing pile of evidence in favor of not), you can’t have this. For one thing, it isn’t true. Michael Bradley has been one of the most consistently criticized national team players over the course of his career. You would have to try very hard not to notice that.
For another thing, Jermaine is accepting the premise that he and Bradley are garbage together. He just wants us to blame Bradley for it. That is about as unacceptable as it can get. Better players have been dropped for less. And if we take Jermaine’s word for it, the various Powers That Are have already been trying to dump him, only to be stymied by his superior talent. This is basically the Hope Solo approach – well, give or take a couple of felonies.
This was an avoidable, unforced crisis brought on by Jermaine’s sensitivity towards criticism. If it wasn’t an issue within the national team before, it certainly is now. And if it was a private issue before, it just made Bruce Arena’s job unnecessarily more difficult.
The good option here is Jermaine walking all this back – better still, quick cantering all this back. Otherwise, Arena will have to put in a less talented player for the sake of chemistry…or drop Bradley in favor of the next guy who will have to worry about being thrown under the bus the next time Matt Doyle writes a column.
I would elaborate on what all this unpleasant whining would portend for Jermaine’s continued work at his club level, but my head seems to have exploded.