New England Soccer Today

A Tale of Two Performances

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Jermaine Jones started at center back in a newly-instituted 3-5-2 formation, while Lee Nguyen came in at the start of the second half in the United States’ 3-2 loss to Chile at Estadio El Teniente in Rancagua, Chile.

Here’s a closer look at how the Revolution’s representatives fared in the U.S.’s first match of 2015.

-Well, it’s safe to say that Jermaine Jones isn’t going to make the 2018 World Cup roster by playing as a lone center back. To be fair, Jones has been a good soldier as coach Jurgen Klinsmann continues to experiment with the idea of assigning the Revolution midfielder to the center of the defense. At the same time, Jones performed about as well as one would expect for an attack-minded midfielder who’s being asked to shoulder additional defensive duties. An obvious bout of miscommunication between him and Matt Besler essentially rolled out the red carpet for Roberto Gutierrez’s opening goal for Chile in the 10th minute. It didn’t get much better from there. Losing possession in the shadow of his area nearly opened the door for Diego Valdes, who rifled a shot that Nick Rimando adroitly denied. To cap the half, Jones was beaten in the air by Gutierrez on a goal that was disallowed by a suspect offside call. Oh, and he was handed the customary caution in 52nd minute for good measure.

-As unimpressive as Jones may have been, there were a couple of positives. First, Jones’ engine never quit. Even though he may have shirked his defensive responsibilities in the process a number of times, his desire to will his teammates forward faced with a deficit and in unfamiliar surroundings was admirable. Another positive: despite the forgettable overall performance, he was handed the skipper’s armband when Clint Dempsey came off in the 68th minute, a sure-fire sign of the respect Klinsmann continues to have in the former Schalke 04 midfielder .

-Nguyen got a longer look than the one he saw against Colombia last November, but unfortunately, a flustered U.S. midfield forced him to take on additional defensive duties. Even so, that didn’t stop him from adding some fire to the attack. Slotted behind Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, the Revolution midfielder attempted to link up with both, while nearly setting up Gyasi Zardes for a late equalizer in the 90+2 minute. Of course, his best moment came in the 77th minute when he curled a shot from the edge of the area that nearly snuck through.

-It’ll be interesting to see the situations Jones and Nguyen are confronted with when the U.S. returns to the pitch on Feb. 8 against Panama at the StubHub Center. Jones was clearly out of his depth as the lone center back, which was perhaps the biggest flaw in Klinsmann’s ill-conceived 3-5-2. Meanwhile, Nguyen’s workrate and ingenuity should make him a candidate for a start, perhaps playing behind Altidore in a lone-striker formation.

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