SAO PAULO (AP) — Jermaine Jones will use a little extra caution, knowing full well his penchant for drawing cards from referees.
Even the slightest of bumps could become costly fouls at the World Cup, as seen in Brazil's 3-1 win over Croatia in Thursday's opener.
The Americans had just arrived in Brazil this week when Esse Baharmast paid a visit to the team hotel to help in preparations. A referee at the 1998 World Cup, the Coloradan is now a FIFA technical instructor. He advised the U.S. on what types of calls to expect during the tournament — such as the subtle shove by Dejan Lovren that led to Neymar's game-turning penalty kick for Brazil in the opener.
"They already say we have to watch out with the hands in the box or on corner kicks, especially with me with yellow cards, he said," Jones recalled Friday. "So we know the rules and we have to be careful. We know that. But we have to play our game. We don't have to change something. If we've got somebody and he has to take a foul for the team, maybe you have to do it."
According to Soccerway, Jones has 72 yellow cards in nine seasons at the club level — 14 alone in 2011-12.
Referee Yuichi Nishimura of Japan came under scrutiny after calling a questionable foul against Croatia, leading to Neymar's go-ahead goal on a 71st-minute penalty kick.
"Mixed emotions, obviously. That's going to happen," midfielder Graham Zusi said Friday before the team traveled to Natal on a charter flight for the Americans' opener Monday against Ghana. "The system isn't perfect, and you have to be ready for it."
Jones realizes he will be closely watched when the U.S. starts Group G play against the Black Stars, who eliminated the Americans from the last two World Cups.