Through 37 wins this season, things broke the right way for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They avoided injury, and made a rotation filled with three high-level transfers work to near perfection.
They weren’t fazed by their lone loss of the regular season, and took advantage of a path to the national championship that featured a matchup with an 11 seed in the Elite Eight and a seven seed in the Final Four.
“The criticism is always on me,” Jones said. “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 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.”
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Jones went on to bring up his experience — “If I go to the national team right now, name me a player who has more Champions League games, who played in the highest levels — name me one” — as a defense of his continued place in the national team.
But this is a bad argument for his continued inclusion in the starting XI, as is his performance at the World Cup. And he wasn’t the team’s best player at the most recent big tournament, Copa América. Not even close.
Jones was once the USMNT’s best player, but there comes a point where every player declines. It wouldn’t help Brazil to put Pelé in the starting XI right now. And it doesn’t help the USMNT to start Jones.