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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Jurgen Klinsmann shouldn't be blamed for U.S. struggles - Jermaine Jones

The guys chat with U.S. star Jermaine Jones, who has a message for his doubters, and ICC mastermind Charlie Stillitano.

Jermaine Jones believes Jurgen Klinsmann does not deserve all of the blame for the United States' slow start in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Klinsmann was fired in November following back-to-back defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica, but Jones told ESPN FC's Max & Herc podcast that the coach's critics should consider the entire body of work from his five years as national teams boss.

Under Klinsmann, the U.S. won the 2013 Gold Cup and reached the knockout stage from a difficult group in the 2014 World Cup and, Jones said, in so doing improved American soccer's reputation on the global stage.

"I would not put everything on Jurgen. Jurgen did a good job," Jones said. "We came with him good in the World Cup, we played a good Copa America. We have, if you talk behind the scenes, what he did for U.S. soccer, I think he did a lot. That we have to respect.

"We don't have to put always everything like bad, what he did, how bad the team was. No. The team is still the same team and I think he helped U.S. soccer to make the next step.

"If you see when I came, it was the same time when you played. We played more the teams like Jamaica, Panama and all kind of stuff. We reached really far out with U.S. soccer. France, Italy, all these countries, they don't see us like a small nation in soccer anymore, but we showed it and I think a lot has to do with him too.

Jermaine Jones and Jurgen Klinsmann
Jermaine Jones says Jurgen Klinsmann deserves credit, not blame, for his work with the U.S.

"He has his name when played and everything and his contacts was easy maybe to get some games where maybe other teams would not play us before, you know?"

Jones also said Klinsmann's critics should consider the difficulty of the U.S.'s opening two games of the Hexagonal round, and said the U.S. players have already accepted fault for the two defeats.

"I hate to talk about coaches, and if you lose to put it on coaches, right?" Jones said. "End of today, all the players in the system? Player mistakes -- if you get the trust of the coach and he puts you on the field and you lose the games, it is the players' mistakes, it's not the coach's mistake.

"He has always a small portion on that, what the team does on the field. But end of the day, to be honest if you see we played the two strongest teams -- Mexico at home which you always can lose, they have a good team. And then you go to Costa Rica, where we never won, and this was the point that Jurgen had to handle.

"We lost both games -- the pressure was on him, so the deal is 'Out.'"

Jones, who started in both defeats in November, also said the poor performances inspired him personally to come back and play harder the next time out.

"I am the first one who puts my hands up if I play s---," Jones said. "I play s--- and then I'm the first one to put it up and say 'Next time I go 100 percent.' I am the last guy to put something on the coach."

Under new boss Bruce Arena, the U.S. got back on track in qualifying last month with a home win over Honduras and a draw in Panama, but Jones said the change in manager was not the sole reason for the team's improvement.

"The change is that we won. We won against Honduras, and then we got a tie in Panama, that changed," he said. "But I think inside the team, I think it is almost the same team that Jurgen Klinsmann brought in always.

"I think they have a different style of maybe coaching. I don't want to say always, especially in America like after Jurgen left and everything, seems like Bruce changed everything. Bruce is a good coach, he has a lot of experience, he knows how he has to touch especially after the two losses. How you have to get into the group.

"He made a good job. He came up with an amazing game, a 6-0 against Honduras and then beat Panama or have a tie in Panama and everybody knows that, and you played that game, you know it... it is not easy to go over there and get the points like that.

"It is a good job, I think, from the whole team that we came back with these two results and now we have the next game at home, and then we go to Mexico where everybody loves to play."

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