Can Bradley, Jones Co-Exist for US?
During the 2010 World Cup, Michael Bradley covered almost eight miles a game. He ran further than any player who saw action in four matches and many who figured in five.
He led the tournament in average distance per game by more than half a mile per match – although he did have the benefit of extra time in the US' Round of 16 tilt with Ghana. (Landon Donovan, who was second, ran 7.2 miles per game.)
In short, Bradley works his butt off on the field.
Then, of course, Jermaine Jones donned the Red, White and Blue. The Schalke 04 midfielder plays a similar style to the Borussia Mönchengladbach sparkplug. He flies around the field. He tackles hard. He has better vision than Bradley – witness the over-the-top ball to Jozy Altidore against Poland that was as impressive for its sheer audacity as it was for its nice execution (including a deft touch by the young striker).
In short, Jones works his butt off on the field.
But can the two coexist without stepping on each other's toes? After 180 minutes of playing together, it appears as though they can.
This is, for sure, a work in progress. But after taking time to digest the performances against Poland and Colombia, you have to agree that Bradley and Jones didn't alter their games all that much to fit together.
(For now, discount the ambitious but ineffective three-man central midfield experiment Bob Bradley trotted out during the first 45 in PPL Park. That may yet work, but the duo and Maurice Edu are going to need more time together to figure it out.)
"In the first game against Poland and in the second half tonight, you can see there's already a pretty good understanding between him and Michael," Bob Bradley said of the pair after the 0-0 draw with Colombia.
US Soccer didn't track distance covered for the US' recent pair of friendlies, but both Bradley and Jones appeared to cover impressive amounts of ground. Both were active against Poland and, while the midfield was stifled a bit during the first half vs. the South American side, one moment stuck out for its potential.
In the 17th minute, Jones committed a foul outside the American box after racing back to defend. He deflected the subsequent free kick while standing in the wall, and the ball trickled to Brad Guzan.
The US goalkeeper took a brief moment or two to gather himself and survey the field before unleashing a massive punt that traveled three-quarters of the way to the Colombian goal. The ball found the feet of Jones, who was promptly dragged down and earned a free kick that Michael Bradley could have finished were it not for the head of Oguchi Onyewu.
The play epitomized was the type of hustle American fans have come to expect from the younger Bradley. They can expect it from Jones as well.
These midfield partners will be just fine.
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. You can find him on Twitter @noahedavis.