The U.S. midfield puzzle could be without one of its pieces for June's important World Cup qualifiers after Jermaine Jones suffered a sprained MCL while playing for the LA Galaxy over the weekend.
Jones suffered a grade 2 sprain of his right MCL against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, and the Galaxy say he'll miss 3-4 weeks. With the USA facing Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico on June 8 and 11, that timetable would put his return as close as possible to the two matches. Jones's U.S. status hinges on whether manager Bruce Arena would want to call on a player immediately off an injury, even for one of the two games.
Jones missed the first of two March World Cup qualifiers–the 6-0 win over Honduras–via suspension and returned for a 1-1 draw in Panama. Without Jones available, Arena turned to a midfield of Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Lletget and Darlington Nagbe. Lletget was hurt in the game against Honduras and won't be available for the June matches, either.
The Jones-Bradley partnership in central midfield has long been a point of contention for both Arena and his predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann. Arena addressed the pairing last month with reporters, saying that against Panama it "certainly didn’t look like anything special. As we move forward we continue to look at different possibilities. You look at the game against Honduras and the game in Panama, they’re two completely different games and have so many different qualities and characteristics. It’s hard to go from one game to the other and come out with a perfect answer. ... In my mind there are some clear choices we’re going to make in midfield and how others fit in remain to be seen."
The U.S. currently sits in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, with four points through four games. The top three finishers automatically qualify for Russia 2018, while the fourth-place team will enter an intercontinental playoff against Asia's fifth-place finisher.
As for the Galaxy, Joao Pedro and Baggio Husidic manned the central midfield in Jones's place upon his exit. The club is mired in a four-game winless slump and sits in ninth place in the West Conference with a 2-5-2 mark so far.