Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 17 News List

WORLD CUP: US deal with close ties to Germany in lead-up to key game

AFP, SAO PAULO, Brazil

Usually when national anthems are played at the World Cup, half of the stadium enjoys one and half likes the other. This week, there will be a group who are moved by both.

On Thursday, midfielder Jermaine Jones is one of several US players who will have split allegiances. Jones is set to play Germany, the country where he was born, bred and played most of his soccer.

“With both the anthems I’ll close my eyes, let everything go through and then after I will try to make my game,” said the German-accented 32-year-old.

Jones played three friendlies for Germany in 2008, but he switched to the US after being overlooked by coach Joachim Loew for that year’s European championship.

His origins are not unique. German-Americans John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler and Julian Green are all included in the squad led by Jurgen Klinsmann, a former Germany player and coach.

Now Jones, whose superb strike nearly earned the US a famous win over Portugal, is to play a team including German friends and acquaintances as the US bid for the World Cup’s last 16.

“I always say that I’m proud of both countries. I grew up in Germany and they gave me a lot. I took my first steps there and I played my first games and first leagues there,” he said. “I’m not going to say bad things about Germany, I have a lot of friends in Germany. Everything is good and everything happens for a reason.”

Jones, the son of a US soldier and German mother, has pledged not to celebrate if he scores in Recife. The US, who beat Ghana and drew 2-2 with Portugal, need at least a point to ensure their progress.

After coming through the ranks of German soccer, the uncompromising Jones said he appreciates the straightfoward approach that has helped bring them three World Cup titles.

“The whole time when I was playing there and grew up, the people are straight, concentrated and always focused. They know what they want to do,” Jones said.

“The expectations in Germany are very simple. They’ve always got to win it. Otherwise they’re disappointed,” Klinsmann said.

Jones, who formerly played for Schalke 04, but now plays for Turkish side Besiktas JK, admitted he was upset for “two or three days” after missing out on a place in Germany’s Euro 2008 squad.

However, buoyed by his strike against Portugal, which was canceled out by a late equalizer, he said the US now felt ready to take on anyone.

“We showed we can play against these teams,” he said.

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