U.S. happy with Jermaine Jones' move
CARSON, Calif. -- U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is happy -- and also relieved -- that key midfielder Jermaine Jones has left German club Schalke for Turkish giant Besiktas.
Jones signed a short-term deal with Besiktas on Thursday after his contract with Schalke, where he had spent most of the last seven seasons, was terminated by mutual consent.
On Friday, Klinsmann lauded the switch, which significantly increases Jones' chances of receiving regular playing time ahead of this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
"We are pleased with his move," the coach said during a news conference at StubHub Center, where the Americans will take on South Korea in a friendly on Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN). "That was really, really crucial, because he and Michael Bradley [are] the heart of our midfield."
The German-born Jones, 32, has been a starter with the U.S. since making his debut 2010. He had also been a regular with Schalke -- a frequent participant in the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League -- but had been looking for a new employer ever since Schalke coach Jens Keller made it clear that Jones would be surplus to requirements for the rest of the Bundesliga campaign if he stayed.
"I could not tell Jones that he'd have a guaranteed starting spot in the second half of the season," Schalke coach Jens Keller told German media in early January.
Europe's month-long transfer window opened on Jan. 1. The deal was finalized a day before it closed. Klinsmann said Friday that he'd been in regular contact with Jones throughout.
"I told him, you have to solve that issue. No matter how, you have to get back playing otherwise you run out of time," Klinsmann said. "Well, he took his time a little bit -- until almost to the last day –- but he solved it with the move to Besiktas. It's a good club, it's an international team there, with lots of national team players around him, and he gets his playing time right away."