In a little over a year, the United States has witnessed some truly awful results under the leadership of Jurgen Klinsmann, but the back-to-back defeats to Jamaica and Panama to end a poor 2015 Gold Cup, defeat to Mexico at the 2015 CONCACAF Cup and historic 2-0 loss to Guatemala in the fourth round of World Cup qualifying all pale in comparison to Tuesday night’s capitulation in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The USA fell short in every category to their Central American opposition. The scoreline, embarrassingly, could’ve been much steeper than the final of 4-0. While defenders John Brooks, Timothy Chandler and Omar Gonzalez made a mockery of what it takes to earn a result on the road in CONCACAF qualifying, the players deployed in front of them in Klinsmann’s conventional 4-4-2 were an artless abomination of nothingness, to put it kindly.
Defensive errors are always glaring and killer, but Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones labored to literally zero effect against the Ticos. After over three months on the sidelines with a lateral cruciate ligament injury, Jones has been hurled back into action for both club and country. However, being tasked to do battle with the LA Galaxy’s Steven Gerrard, 36, and Landon Donovan, 34, doesn’t really prepare you for the likes of Jesus Corona, Hector Herrera and Celso Borges.
The most difficult piece in analyzing Bradley and Jones’ performances is deciding who was worse.
Bradley, playing in his vetted number six role, shuffled the ball around the back, generally sideways and backwards, but was wholly ineffectual in springing attacks. His pass completion percentage of 72.5 percent (37-51) is also remarkably bad for a "holding midfielder."
Giving up four goals never reflects well on the midfielder charged with shielding the back four, but he at least provided a little bit of bite as compared to his midfield partner.
Not that this matters. But Jermaine Jones (left) is not getting a Secret Santa gift from MB (right) this year. (Defensive events). pic.twitter.com/gJ8EbdCwIq— Matthew Tomaszewicz (@shinguardian) November 16, 2016
For Jones, it was one of the more apathetic, listless and horrid performances you’ll ever see from a player wearing the national team shirt. Jones completed 53 percent of his passes (16-30), while his performance as the more attack minded player was a huge reason as to why the USA didn’t complete a pass in the Costa Rican box until the 91st minute.
Before Jones' substitution in the 71st minute, it became increasingly obvious that he had come to see the football as a cooked hand grenade, resorting to ridding himself of posession with impressive haste.
1. Pass to wide open Bradley
2. Slam overheated pass directly into CR player, prompting a break
GUESS WHICH ONE JJ DID pic.twitter.com/xAmUHxr1rD— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) November 16, 2016
At 35, with a mounting list of injuries and a suspension for the American’s next qualifying match (March 23, 2017 vs. Honduras), Klinsmann has a third of a year to decide how to move forward without Jones.
He’s been a great servant for the national team, and while retaining him throughout the remainder of the Hex wouldn’t be a cataclysmic disaster — the USA will surely still qualify for the World Cup — he cannot be relied on to play a vital role, or any role, in 2018.
With midfielders like Perry Kitchen, Danny Williams, Sacha Kljestan, Darlington Nagbe, Benny Feilhaber and Dax McCarty there’s a myriad of other options for Klinsmann, but time is running short for both Klinsmann and the USMNT.