Despite loss, tuneup match a positive for Jones and U.S. team
It wasn't the score line U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones envisioned when he stepped onto the Gillette Stadium pitch, but the 4-1 loss to Brazil was only part of the story for the Revolution superstar during Tuesday's international friendly.
In his first match in Foxborough with the U.S. team, Jones, who signed with the Revolution just over a year ago, received the loudest ovation from the 29,308 in attendance when the lineups were announced.
"I would say it was exciting," Jones told the media after the match. "Everything but the result was good. But we knew they had a good team."
Jones, who was in the lineup for the second time in five days, was part of a strong collaborative effort put forth by the U.S. during the first half to limit fifth-ranked Brazil to only one goal at the interval. The manageable margin gave the U.S. reason to believe it could get a result from a team it hadn't beaten since 1999.
But any hope of a memorable night for Jones and his U.S. teammates came crashing down shortly after the start of the second half. In the 51st minute, Brazil's electric winger Neymar blazed into the box before he was fouled, earning a penalty which he struck true moments later.
"In the first half, we did really good," Jones said. "(But) in the second half, with the penalty, then it started to come back against us."
Neymar added to his personal haul in the 67th minute, a goal which arrived only three minutes after substitute Rafinha put the match out of reach with a crafty shot that eluded keeper Brad Guzan.
"We knew they were really good with the counter (attack)," Jones said. "Their quality and finishing was really good. I think the bottom line was that we gave them too much space when we lost the ball in front and then they can run 1-v-1 against the outside backs. We knew they were really good at that, and they showed us."
As disheartening as the result was, Jones was quick to point out that the match itself was only a tune-up for the squad's biggest game of the year: an Oct. 10 showdown with rival Mexico for the right to represent CONCACAF at the Confederations Cup in 2017.
"We know that the Mexico game is the final," Jones said. "Everybody knows we'll have to bring it 100 percent in that game. Today, we didn't want to lose this game, but it's a lesson, and we see how it works."
Individually, Jones continued to show the form that's made him an integral player for both club and country.
The 33-year-old midfielder, who underwent his second sports hernia surgery of the calendar year in June, went 72 minutes, his longest run of action since the injury.
More importantly, he was active throughout Tuesday's friendly, serving as the primary link between the defense and wingers, and interjected himself into the attack when needed. It was the kind of performance Jones has become known, which bodes well for the Revolution, who'll get their superstar back in time for Sunday's conference showdown with Toronto FC.
"I feel it's getting better and better from game to game," Jones said. "I'm happy that now I go back to my team and give them some minutes and then try be 100 percent when we play Mexico."