Jermaine Jones provides Mississippi connection on U.S. team

June 28, 2014 

Patrick Magee

When Jermaine Jones provided the U.S Men's National Team's first goal in a 2-2 tie against Portugal a week ago, Mississippi had extra reason to celebrate.

The state is not known for producing top notch soccer talent, but Jones provides a Magnolia State tie on the squad currently competing in the knockout stage of the World Cup in Brazil. The U.S. takes on Belgium at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in the round of 16.

Arguably the best U.S. player during the group stage was Jones, one of five German-Americans on the roster.

All five of those players have fathers who were U.S. servicemen stationed in Germany and German mothers.

Jones' father is a Mississippi native and the midfielder lived in Greenwood before he returned to Germany at the age of 7 following his parents' divorce.

After going back to Germany, Jones grew up in Frankfurt and gradually rose through the soccer ranks in a country known for having one of world's best soccer traditions.

Although he has an American name and looks like an American, you wouldn't know Jones has Mississippi roots if you hear him talk. He speaks with a thick German accent.

Jones, who also lived in Chicago at one point in his youth, is a popular figure among German soccer fans after playing for Eintrach Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga (Germany's top pro league). He currently competes for Besiktas, one of the top clubs in Turkey.

Jones is married to a former Miss Germany, Sarah Gerthe, with whom he has five children.

He grew up in a tough part of Frankfurt, but life has turned out good for Jones.

Unlike his four other German-American teammates, Jones was actually a member of the German national team at one point. He competed for the German U-21 squad and played in three friendlies with the German national squad.

Jones had long considered switching his allegiance from Germany to the U.S., but he didn't think it was possible until a rule change.

The three friendlies that Jones competed in weren't considered official matches. Therefore, Jones could make a one-time switch to switch to the U.S. and he made his debut with the Americans in 2010.

The addition of Jones to the roster has been a coup for U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a German soccer legend who took some heat for tracking down talented Europeans eligible to switch to the U.S.

Klinsmann's decision to acquire overseas talent likely made the difference between the U.S. advancing to the round of 16 and heading home early.

Jones and fellow German-American John Brooks provided half of the U.S. team's four goals in the group stage.

Contact Patrick Magee at pmagee@sunherald.com and follow him@Patrick_Magee.

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