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Barca attack picking up steam

Barcelona 5 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jul 2, 2009

Jones could be cleared to play for U.S. by August

NEW YORK -- Midfielder Jermaine Jones could join the U.S. national team later this year, possibly with defender Edgar Castillo.

The 27-year-old Jones, who has appeared in the European Champions League for Schalke of the Bundesliga, has played three times for Germany's national team in exhibitions. He holds dual citizenship and has petitioned FIFA for a switch of nationality.

"We've had pretty regular communications with Jermaine's representatives and his advisers," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Thursday. "I think that paperwork for that has probably now been submitted to FIFA. And the earliest he would be eligible to move would be the 2nd of August, which would be 60 days after the rule change came into effect."

Jones, the son of a U.S. soldier, was Eintracht Frankfurt's captain before signing a four-year contract with Schalke in April 2007.

He made his German national team debut against Austria on Feb. 6 last year as an 82nd minute reserve, played the second half against Belarus on May 27 and was among the final roster cuts by coach Joachim Loew for last year's European Championship. He played the first half against England in November but has not appeared for Germany since.

Jones agreed in March to a three-year contract extension with Schalke through the 2013-14 season. Last month he told the governing body of German soccer he wanted to switch national teams.

"I certainly have had a lot of opportunities to see him play," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "I would just like to wait until everything is taken care of on the paperwork side and we have the chance to bring him in before getting too much into detail. But, you know, he's been an important player at Schalke. He's played in a lot of big games and that type of experience can always be very, very helpful."

Plans aren't as far along with Castillo, a 22-year-old from New Mexico with Mexico's Tigres UANL. He made his debut for Mexico's national team against Colombia on Aug. 22, 2007, and has played in four matches for El Tri.

"We've had some discussions with Edgar's representatives in the last few days," Gulati said. "Everything is open. I don't think Bob is ready to say that he's coming into the team or not coming into the team, but from our perspective we've had some preliminary discussions with Edgar."

Two players who could have helped the U.S. chose other countries in the past year. Villarreal forward Giuseppe Rossi, who was born in New Jersey, made his debut for Italy in October and scored twice against the Americans at the Confederations Cup. Defender Neven Subotic, who grew up partly in Salt Lake City and Bradenton, Fla., made his debut for Serbia in March.

Gulati and Bradley spoke four days after the U.S. lost to Brazil 3-2 at Johannesburg in the final of the Confederations Cup, the first FIFA final for a U.S. men's team, and two days before the Americans' CONCACAF Gold Cup opener against Grenada in Seattle.

The U.S., seeking its third straight title in the regional championship, initially included just two regular starters on its Gold Cup roster -- forward Brian Ching and defender Steve Cherundolo -- was allowed to expand its roster from 23 to 30 because of the short turnaround.

Added Thursday were forwards Jozy Altidore and Conor Casey; backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan; midfielder Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan; and defender Jonathan Bornstein.

Landon Donovan was bypassed because his time with the national team has kept him away from the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The U.S. is ranked 12th in the world heading into the Gold Cup, its highest level since FIFA revised its system three years ago.

"Certainly all of us have heard from people, friends, fans, in the United States over these past days," Bradley said. "And it's a tremendous feeling to think that so many people tuned in and were excited about the Confederations Cup. And the responsibility in that regard continues to always be there, and the Gold Cup is a chance to follow up the success of the Confederations Cup with hopefully defending our title."

After opening the Confederations Cup with terrible performances against world champion Italy (3-1 loss) and South American champion Brazil (3-0 defeat), the United States beat African champion Egypt 3-0, then upset European champion Spain 2-0. It took a two-goal halftime lead against Brazil in the final before allowing three second-half goals.

"Do I consider it a miracle? No. Just a great performance and players playing at the level that, you know, we'd all love to see them playing at every game," Gulati said. "No one plays at their top level every game, not Spain, not Brazil and not the U.S. So it was a great performance in that respect, but not a miracle."

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