- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

The scene was the postgame interview in the basement of FedEx Field. While President Clinton was in the home team locker room congratulating the American players, German defender Steffi Jones stepped up to the microphone choking back tears.
Minutes earlier, Germany had lost to the United States 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup, with two mistakes by Jones leading to the first two U.S. goals. The pressure had caught up with the German star, who a few days earlier had been thrust into the media spotlight after it was discovered that she was the daughter of an American serviceman.
That was three years ago. Today Jones is back in America and once more in the news. If all goes according to plan, Jones will make her debut for the Washington Freedom (2-4-2) against the Women's United Soccer Association league leaders, the Philadelphia Charge (5-1-1), at Villanova Stadium this afternoon.
The Freedom acquired Jones, 29, as an international discovery player earlier this year, but she was unable to join the team immediately because of club commitments in Germany. Last month Jones led FFC Frankfurt to the European Club Championship.
"She's a good, solid player," said Freedom captain Jen Grubb. "She's a technical player. I've seen her play with the German national team, so I'm familiar with her as a player."
At 5-foot-11, Jones is the Freedom's tallest player and will be an imposing, formidable physical presence on defense. No doubt she will relieve 5-10 forward Abby Wambach from some of her defensive duties. This week Jones trained for the first time with her teammates.
"I've already seen a few games, and I know Abby has had some good games," Jones said. "Mia [Hamm] has been missing, and you can see that she is really important for the team she talks a lot and is a leader. The captain [Grubb] is real strong. All of them are young and hungry, most of the team."
Jones played her early soccer in Germany with boys in Frankfurt; not until she was 14 did she know there were teams for girls. By 18, she was on the German national team and since has played 74 times for her country.
"Since I've played with both sides now the German team [FFC Frankfurt] and the U.S. the players here are much stronger, they run a lot," Jones said. "I was nervous. Now I know how good they are, and it's good playing here. So I'm excited."
Jones can play every position but likely will be a central midfielder alongside Lindsay Stoecker for the Freedom against Philadelphia.
Coach Jim Gabarra is happy to have Jones on board at last and hopes she will help the team get into the top half of WUSA standings.
"It's been nine long months of knowing that you're going to have a good player, and it's nice to finally see her in training now." Gabarra said. "Hopefully, she offers us more quality in the same system we're playing. … We're probably looking at playing her in the midfield right now just because we've done fairly well in the back. "
As for Hamm playing her first game of the season since recovering from knee surgery, Gabarra says he may wait until Wednesday's game at RFK against Boston because he doesn't want to risk her knee on the hard, bouncy turf at Villanova. Philadelphia's star striker and captain, Kelly Smith, tore her ACL on the turf last week against San Diego and is out for the season.
United note
Former University of Maryland stars Taylor Twellman, Nick Downing and Leo Cullen are on the New England Revolution team that will face D.C. United at RFK Stadium tonight. Twellman was named Major League Soccer player of the month for May after scoring five goals in four games.
World Cup
Call it the "curse of the captains." At least six captains among the 32 World Cup teams now competing in Japan and South Korea have come down with an injury or will miss the tournament for other reasons.
England's David Beckham broke his foot seven weeks ago and was able to play only 60 minutes against Sweden. The Swedes' own captain, Patrick Andersson, missed the game with a groin injury.
Ireland captain Roy Keane got sent home after a blowup with his coach just before the team's first game. Brazil's Emerson was sent home this week after the defender broke his shoulder while playing goal in a training session. U.S. captain Claudio Reyna is nursing a sore hamstring and sat out the game against Portugal. Argentina's Roberto Ayala sat out a game against Nigeria after feeling a sharp pain in his thigh in the pregame warmup, and Japan's Ryuzo Morioka was carried off on a stretcher in the team's 2-2 draw with Russia.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide