Clint Dempsey’s outburst for the Seattle Sounders in a Open Cup match has cost him the U.S. national team captaincy.
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Speaking to U.S. Soccer’s website ahead of the USMNT’s final friendly on Friday against Guatemala before their 2015 Gold Cup campaign kicks off next Tuesday against Honduras, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed he had a “very, very good conversation” with Dempsey following his red card and three-game suspension for ripping up a referee’s notebook against Portland in a U.S. Open Cup defeat with Seattle in June.
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After that “coffee with Clint” Klinsmann has decided to take the captaincy away from Deuce and Michael Bradley has been handed the armband for the Gold Cup tournament.
More from Klinsmann on that decision, here:
“I had a very, very good conversation with Clint about what happened during the Open Cup, but also about how we want to approach things. For the time being we thought it’s the best thing to give the captaincy to Michael Bradley and let Clint focus on what he’s all about. Clint is about scoring goals. We need Clint Dempsey badly with the National Team. We need him in a good spirit.
What happened was a mistake, but it was the first red card in his career and a lot of people went at him. I think the best thing for everyone right now is to let him concentrate really on playing and doing what he does best. It’s his performance on the field. It’s his delivery for the U.S. National Team, and he has always delivered. He’s at 40 goals for his country and I told him I want him to score many, many more. Hopefully in this summer’s Gold Cup he becomes the top scorer in the tournament. We need Clint in a free spirit and that’s why we decided to kind of take that captaincy and move it over to Michael for the Gold Cup and then we’ll see.”
So, Bradley is the leader for now, and do many people see the armband returning to Clint after this Gold Cup? Nah, it’s not likely, is it?
Dempsey has a been a true warrior on the field for the U.S. and as Klinsmann mentioned, his goalscoring exploits have often been hampered as he’s put the team first by playing across midfield and in lone-forward roles. See: pretty much the entire 2014 World Cup. However, Bradley always seemed likely to assume the position of captain permanently sooner rather than later and he led the U.S. masterfully in recent friendly wins over Germany and Holland. Bradley is 27, Dempsey is 32. You do the math.
With or without Dempsey’s outburst in Seattle, Klinsmann has made the right call to hand Bradley the U.S. national team captaincy.