Featured Matches
Previous
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
ESPNDeportes, ESPN3 8:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Bayern Munich
VfL Wolfsburg
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Paris Saint-Germain
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Forest Green Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid
ESPNDeportes, ESPN3 8:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
US Pescara
Chievo Verona
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Heidenheimer SB
TSV 1860 Munich
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
RB Leipzig
FC Erzgebirge Aue
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
St Pauli
SV Sandhausen
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Ajaccio
Tours
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Angers
Chateauroux
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Arles
Sochaux
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
AS Nancy Lorraine
Nimes
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Clermont Foot
Ajaccio GFCO
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Créteil
Niort
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Orléans
Brest
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Troyes
Stade Laval
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Valenciennes
Le Havre AC
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Heracles Almelo
Cambuur Leeuwarden
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Almere City
Jong FC Twente
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Den Bosch
RKC Waalwijk
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Emmen VV
Jong PSV
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Helmond Sport
FC Oss
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Jong Ajax
FC Volendam
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
MVV Maastricht
Sparta Rotterdam
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
NEC Nijmegen
Fortuna Sittard
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
FC Eindhoven
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Stormvogels Telstar
Achilles '29
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
VVV Venlo
De Graafschap
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Guimaraes
FC Penafiel
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Terek Grozny
FC Arsenal Tula
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Racing Genk
KAA Gent
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mjallby
Helsingborg
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sandnes Ulf
Viking FK
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
U.A.N.L
ESPNDeportes 12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Santos
Toluca
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Newi Cefn Druids
Aberystwyth
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Prestatyn Town
Connah's Quay
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
T.N.S.
Bangor City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal de Sarandí
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Tigre
Racing Club
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
Coras Tepic
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mineros de Zacatecas
Oaxaca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Dorados de Sinaloa
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
AA Ponte Preta
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Oeste
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Santiago Wanderers
Audax Italiano
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Defensor Sporting
Rentistas
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Universidad De Costa Rica
Pumas Generalena
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Honduras Progreso
Platense
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

MLS Review: L.A. struggles

MLS Jul 7, 2014
Read
Jun 21, 2014

Jones and Beckerman invaluable

RECIFE, Brazil -- Two of the most maligned players during this World Cup cycle have become indispensable components for the U.S. national team.

The duo in question is Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman, and in last Monday's World Cup opener against Ghana, both players were immense. Jones broke up play after play, and he showed plenty of street smarts, including one sequence where he shielded the ball for what seemed like an eternity before winning a throw-in deep in Ghana's half. On the surface, it seems an inconsequential play, but on a night when the U.S. struggled to keep possession, it allowed the Americans to catch their breath, get their bearings and keep the ball for a bit.

Beckerman meanwhile was doing his bit on defense, as well, providing his usual bulwark in front of the back line. He was also one of the few players on the night to take care of the ball, completing 85 percent of his passes. Even better, his precision increased as the match wore on and the Americans were trying to protect a slender one-goal lead.

For former U.S. international Kasey Keller, it was a match that was less about beautiful soccer and more about "run, tackle, fight, kick, scratch. It fit those two players perfectly."

Jermaine Jones has become the perfect foil to Michael Bradley in the U.S. midfield.

Yet it was about a year ago that both players were drawing the ire of a considerable segment of the U.S. fan base. In Jones' case, this seems to have been a result of high expectations that come with being a Champions League regular with German side Schalke, combined with some uneven play on the field for the national team. It rankled that Jones' play at club level for Schalke, even in the Champions League, seemed several notches above what he showed in a U.S. shirt.

"I think a little bit with Jones was fans thought he was a liability, that he would pick up a second yellow," Keller said. "I think there was a worry about that. I also think at times he tried to be a little bit more of a playmaker than he actually is."

When Jones suffered a concussion against Jamaica last June, he was replaced in the lineup by Geoff Cameron, who delivered a sharp and composed performance. At this point, the number of calls for Jones to be replaced reached a crescendo.

But U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has always valued the physicality and presence that Jones brings. And he's found a system and position that plays to Jones' strengths.

- Davis: Memories of Portugal '02 live on
- McIntyre: Bradley must improve against Portugal
- Cox: Howard ready for Portugal challenge

Now stationed just to the left and a bit in front of Beckerman, Jones provides plenty of midfield steel. He contributes to the attack, as well, but now as more of a complementary piece. He's also shown an impressive amount of discipline that has largely flown under the radar, having now gone 11 straight matches without a yellow card.

"Jones isn't trying to be a playmaker now, he's making plays. There's a big difference," former U.S. international Taylor Twellman said. "Whether it's defending in front of DaMarcus Beasley, defending next to Beckerman, or keeping possession or running out of midfield as that fourth or fifth guy in the attack, I think that's where he excels."

The ire directed in Beckerman's direction is a little harder to fathom. He's never been the fastest player, but his astute positioning, hard tackling and efficient passing ought to have been more appreciated. Instead, a poor match at Jamaica in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying seemed to stick with him.

The turnaround for Beckerman started at last year's Gold Cup thanks to a series of sharp performances, and then accelerated in the home World Cup qualifier against Mexico, a night when injury and suspension forced Beckerman and Jones to be paired together for the first time in the Hexagonal.

Kyle Beckerman's composure makes him the perfect fit for Klinsmann's ideal U.S. midfield vs. Ghana.
Kyle Beckerman's responsibility has made him invaluable in midfield.

"I think Beckerman was underrated for what he brings," Twellman said. "I think he's also a player that has to be in the right system. And I think since the Gold Cup in '13, every single game it's almost as if he gets better. Part of that is the system in 2014, part of that is confidence in the sense that he's proven."

That aforementioned system seems to have brought the best out of both players. Beckerman's one-man shield routine is similar to the one he plays for club side Real Salt Lake, one that enables him to play the kind of passes that help maintain possession. Jones' two-way role allows him to play within himself offensively, while still providing the kind of borderline intimidating presence on defense.

Of course, part of the reason Jones and Beckerman stood out against Ghana was because the U.S. was forced to defend for the vast majority of the match. Against Portugal, the U.S. will be hoping to do more to control the pace of the game.

Either way, a repeat performance in midfield by Jones and Beckerman will be needed against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates. If they can deliver, then once again they'll have observers singing their praises.