As a fan of the U.S. Men's National Team, you probably woke up this morning to a surprise: Jermaine Jones has declared his intention to play for the USA.
There had been stories and talk that Jones was now eligible to play for the USA because FIFA recently changed a rule which now allows players to switch national teams regardless of age (the previous rule was that they had to decide by their 21st birthday) as long as they have not played in official competitions for their national side.
To date, Jones has played in three friendlies for Germany, which are considered unofficial games.
I went on Bigsoccer.com in the last week and fans had even started a thread to begin a campaign to sign Jones' guestbook and ask him to join the U.S. National Team. Word is that Jones was snubbed by current Germany coach Joachim Loew, and that this caused him to make the switch.
For those who have not seen Jones play, he is a talented midfielder who currently plays in Germany for club team Schalke 04, and was recently ranked as the fourth best midfielder in the Bundesliga.
He has to wait 60 days to play a game for the U.S. while paperwork is completed, which means he could be eligible for the U.S. match versus Mexico on August 12th, but it's likely Bob Bradley will call him into a camp to see how he does first.
I predict he will slide right in next to Bradley's son, Michael in central midfield and be the starter once Jones gets situated. Michael, coincidentally, also plays in Germany and apparently he had asked Jones if he would consider switching allegiances and playing for U.S.A.
The timing of this move is even more curious, since the internet is abuzz with stories on Monday's rematch of the World Cup 2006 group stage match between the U.S. and Italy. Giuseppe Rossi, who was born and raised in New Jersey, chose to represent Italy over Sam's Army and will probably face the Americans on Monday in Confederations Cup play.
American fans have lamented how losing talented players like Rossi and more recently Neven Subotic (to Serbia) were painful given their talent and likely ability to improve the U.S. team. It felt, oddly enough, like a hopeful suitor (U.S.) getting spurned by the pretty girl at the prom for a better looking date (another country).
In the case of Subotic, he felt he was snubbed by U-20 coach Thomas Rongen for being left out of a squad in the past. Subotic probably also chose to switch to Serbia because of endorsements and opportunity to play in an improving squad.
Regardless of whether the U.S.A. benefits from current FIFA rules, they are what they are. Perhaps Jones' high profile move will encourage other players of dual nationality to consider playing for the U.S.—currently, Edgar Castillo, a left back who is playing for Mexico, is eligible to switch under the rule change.
It's always curious why players choose the national sides they play for. Sometimes it is due to prestige. Many times it is because you feel a connection to a country of your birth or just where you feel you are most a citizen. Sometimes it is because of your parents, they influence your decision. Or in other cases, it is because you feel unwanted.
It happened in Subotic's case against the U.S.—and now it stands to benefit the U.S. program with this coup of Jones' intent to play for the U.S.A.