Jermaine Jones unhappy with MLS ban, calls Revs' contract offer a 'joke'
CARSON, Calif. -- United States defender Jermaine Jones is frustrated and angry about a six-game suspension that he says is making it tough to leave Major League Soccer.
Jones voiced his frustration and anger over his predicament on Thursday before training with his American teammates.
The 34-year-old Jones is out of contract after spending the last one and a half seasons with the New England Revolution. Jones said he has offers in Germany and other countries, but they are complicated by his pending six-game MLS suspension for touching referee Mark Geiger late in a New England playoff game last October.
"It's a little bit ridiculous, everything. It's a little bit crazy," he said. "So I get a six game suspension in this league. I told the league that I want to go, I have some opportunities."
FIFA regulations require suspensions to be applied across leagues, and MLS commissioner Don Garber already rejected Jones' appeal of the ban in December. If Jones signs with a Bundesliga team, he would have to miss six games in Germany, where he said clubs are wary of acquiring him because their seasons are already half over.
"All other leagues, its half a season played," he said. "If you have a six-game suspension, its tough to bring [someone] in. I feel like its unfair that you close a window for a player that did a lot for this country and this sport here."
Jones got his ban when he confronted Geiger about an uncalled penalty in the 92nd minute of a playoff game. Jones put both of his hands on the referee, earning a red card, and then pulled Geiger's shoulder. Jones is still angry about the length of his suspension, and he indirectly mentioned other bans that seem incongruous.
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"I talked to people in Germany that watched the scene between me and Geiger. It's definitely not a six game suspension," Jones said.
"If you see other stuff that happens and how the league handles that, it's not fair. I don't know exactly why that happens, and why they do it. I stayed quiet a long time. But now its at the point where I say I have to look what's going on in my career, too."
The most egregious recent example was U.S. teammate Clint Dempsey's mere three-game suspension last June when he tore up a referee's notebook during a U.S. Open Cup match.
"If you see the situation that happened there, and you see the situation that happened in the league too, with another national team player, they gave a complete different suspension. I would be happy with three [games] and maybe a penalty, something to pay. It's not correct in my eyes."
Jones also would be willing to stay in MLS, but he said his latest contract offer is "a joke." Last month, Jones said the Revolution offered him "less than 20 percent" of his salary last season, when he reportedly made more than $3 million for just 19 appearances while struggling with hernias.
"I did everything I could do when I came here to the States. I helped New England, with the Kraft family, to put soccer in front," he said. "And now, I'm getting an offer that is a joke. There's still time. I have to make my focus on these two games that come with the national team."
Because suspensions prohibit a player from participating in any soccer competition, Jones also will be ineligible for U.S. national team games while under contract to a club team and serving his suspension. Since he doesn't have a club team, he is eligible to play for coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the American friendlies against Iceland on Sunday and Canada on Feb. 5.
Both matches are at the StubHub Center in Carson, where the U.S. team has its training base. If Jones signs with an MLS club, his suspension would last into April, likely making him ineligible for two World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in late March.
"At the end of the day, I want to be fit for the Copa America that's coming [starting June 3]. But right now it's MLS that puts stones in the way," he said. "It's a little bit frustrating. I told everyone, 'If you bring me the correct contract, I'll be open to stay in MLS. But if not, I don't want to stay here.
"Now, I have good offers. I want to go back to Germany. At the end of they day, they don't give me the chance to go. It's tough for a guy like me that wants to play. If they don't value my level here in the United Stats, then I want to go back to Europe, where the people respect that and offered me a good contract. That makes me mad."
Jones has made 56 appearances for the U.S. national team since 2010, appearing in the 2014 World Cup. He is a favorite of Klinsmann, who values his German training and steady defense.
Information from ESPN FC's Doug McIntyre was used in this report.