Throughout his time as United States manager the majority of Jurgen Klinsmann's big decisions and viewpoints have been met with consternation and controversy. Whether it was leaving a popular player off of a roster or his nonconforming opinions towards Major League Soccer, he's not afraid to ruffle feathers. Finally after almost four years in charge, one of his more important decisions is being met with great acceptance and understanding.
The decision to replace Clint Dempsey as USMNT captain could not have been an easy one. You have one of the best American players to ever play the game still playing at an extremely high level and you're going to tell him you don't want him captaining your team anymore. Dempsey's actions in the U.S. Open Cup were out of character even for the usually intense forward. It was, remarkably, the first red card of his distinguished career. However, that doesn't excuse him for his temper tantrum. U.S. Soccer and MLS both handed down separate and just penalties to him at the club level. The USMNT boss could not stand idly by and do nothing to reprimand his player.
Handing the armband over to Michael Bradley was always going to be an inevitable event due to his natural leadership ability and consistent play. Thanks to the USOC incident the process got a much-needed push in the right direction. Many will argue that Bradley should have been named the team's captain back in 2013 when Dempsey received the honor. The Texan's fire and passion for the game are unparalleled and it's what makes him loved by so many American soccer fans (and hated by many others). As the captain of the USMNT you are responsible for more than just on-field performance and 'rah rah' cheerleading. There are extra media obligations and fan interactions the are required as well. Klinsmann's main factor for the captaincy switch was to let Dempsey focus on nothing but soccer.
While it may seem like a flimsy reason to replace a captain, let's think about it for a second. Do you really want one of your team's most important players facing questions about "The Incident" at every pre and postgame press conference? Of course not. This Gold Cup is vital to the current World Cup cycle and you need him one-hundred percent focused. The decision to take the spotlight off of Dempsey and shine it on the ever-reliable and steady Bradley was a smart and calculated one. Both players were leaders on the field before the change was made and will continue to be afterwards. As long as Dempsey can accept the decision and understand the reasoning everyone should be able to move on and finally forget about this ridiculous situation his actions have caused.
Klinsmann's decisions, quotes, and overall actions may make you scratch your head or even make your blood boil. This time however, his tough choice was clearly the right one.