Due to yellow card accumulation, Jermaine Jones could only watch Friday’s match against Honduras from high above the Avaya Stadium pitch.
Analyzing the match in real time, Jones came away from the 6-0 victory confirming what he already knew about the U.S Men’s National Team.
“When everybody is really focused and on the same page, we have a good team and a good quality,” the veteran midfielder told reporters in Panama City on Sunday.
The result not only served as a shot in the arm for the team after two disappointing losses to regional rivals Mexico and Costa Rica last November, but pushed the U.S. up to fourth place in the Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
While the obvious difference in the team from November to now is the addition of head coach Bruce Arena, Jones put the onus on the players for coming together to earn such an important result.
“I think Bruce Arena did a good job when he came in, trying to bring a smile back in the face after the two losses,” he said. “We know that the pressure was on us, so he tried to take the pressure away a little bit and put it on his focus. I think at the end of the day, it’s always what the players show on the field and that was a good response from us.”
Now eligible for Tuesday’s clash at Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Jones has the chance to contribute in what he expects to be a much more difficult match against Panama.
“The away games are always tougher than the home games, especially with the conditions. It will be hot, the field will maybe be a little bit bumpy, but if we go out and play our game, we showed it already in 2013 that we can come here and win the game.”
In that 2013 match, the U.S. used two stoppage-time goals from Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson to earn a 3-2 victory and knock Los Canaleros out of World Cup contention. That result no doubt lives long in the minds of Panama’s players and fans, but the U.S. has had a decent history playing on the isthmus, going 2-0-1 in World Cup qualifying.
History won’t be at play on Tuesday night, especially against a Panama side coming off a tough 1-0 away loss to Trinidad & Tobago. With just one point separating the teams, a win would almost assuredly see the MNT move into CONCACAF’s top three to end the March World Cup Qualifying window.
“We want to finish business from this camp and go home with three more points,” Jones said.