Jermaine Jones says he "definitely" gets less respect than he believes he deserves for his contribution to the U.S. national team.
The 35-year-old has been a fixture in the U.S. team since 2009 and scored against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup. But he told ESPN FC's Max & Herc podcast that he feels the brunt of negative attention is on him when the national team underperforms
"The criticism is always on me," Jones said. "Everybody tries it, if we lose the game, they always try to find the next guy who can play for Jermaine. It is never somebody else, it is always me.
"And sometimes, I'll be honest, it pisses me off. I say 'Wait a minute! When we play the big tournament, I am always the best player on the field for this country,' but then, end of the day, they try to kick me out when we lose games? That is not fair, you know? I cannot change it. I know what it is."
Jones felt some pressure after starting both of the U.S.'s World Cup qualifying defeats last November, which cost coach Jurgen Klinsmann his job. He was also suspended for last month's 6-0 win over Honduras before returning for a draw at Panama.
On Thursday, he objected to an article on the official MLS website entitled "The case for a USMNT midfield without Jermaine Jones," tweeting:
Why... I'm not surprised that @MLS is coming up with that stuff!! https://t.co/B1KUYzCMVj
- Jermaine Jones (@Jermainejunior) March 30, 2017
But he said he's come to accept that criticism is part of being a professional athlete, and pointed toward New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as an example.
"To the haters, you know, I am not hating. I don't care if they hate me or not," Jones said. "I am blessed with that, what I can do. I am 35 and I am blessed that I can still be out there and be healthy and run and enjoy the game, you know? That is more important for me.
"End of the day, it is winning and losing. If you lose, people go against you, if you win people come. I saw it. I scored a goal in the World Cup, everybody were loving me. 'He is the man, he is a legend' and blah blah. Now we lose games and they go and say we have to get him out, he is too old.
"That is normal. I respect that it is the kind of sport, you know. You have to get hated. If I look in football, look how many people hate Tom Brady, but he is out there and he balling, he gets the championship year for year.
"End of the day, if somebody hates you, that is what I learned from one coach. If they hate you, end of the day, they hate you because they are scared of you."
Jones may be nearing the end of his international career, but he pointed to his experience and said he's not willing to give up his spot at the 2018 World Cup without a fight.
"If I go to the national team right now, name me a player who has more Champions League games, who played in the highest levels -- name me one," he said. "I am not a legend. My name is always [highlighted] when we lose, but all other guys are legends.
"I respect that and I like it and gives me the point that I still want to go. I want to prove people wrong, but I think if you look [at] the numbers, there is nobody who can say, 'Oh I played over 30 Champions League games in club level' and that is important. And if you look at the numbers, you can not lie.
"If I play good, I play bad, yeah, you can criticize me and I have no problem with that. I come from soccer in Europe where I know if you play bad games you get bad criticism. That is the normal job, end of the day."
Jones, who was born in Germany to an American father and German mother, also suggested his heritage may contribute to the criticism that he feels does not touch the U.S.'s other elder statesmen like Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey.
"Trust me, I am not getting younger. A number is a number. I want the people to respect me for what I did," he said. "They respect Timmy, they respect Clint, all the people.
"I have no problem if you want to criticize me when I play a bad game, but if you want to go against me and say I am a poor player and all kind of stuff... I am sorry, man, there is nobody on that national team who has the same game and has the same success.
"I have played over 15 years in Europe in high level, not 10, not five years, not one year. Sometimes it's tough to look at numbers.
"I am a German-American, maybe not a full American that you can sell like a product, you know?"
Jones said he's eager to play in the next World Cup and possibly beyond, but he was also willing to concede that when a better player does come along, he won't stand in the way of progress, either with the U.S. or the LA Galaxy.
"Bring me the guy who is better in that position and show that week to week in the league, against me, against other teams, I respect it and I will say, 'If he is better I will step away,'" Jones said.
"I am 35. I can step away and say I had a good career, but right now if we be honest, ask my teammates, are the people inside there is nobody who can take my spot. If it comes to a game, a tough game there is nobody who really wants to battle with me."