Michael Bradley will be the United States' captain at the 2015 Gold Cup. Jurgen Klinsmann has decided to give the midfielder the armband instead of Clint Dempsey, marking a change in the leadership designation on the team ahead of a very important tournament.
Dempsey had been the Americans' captain for years, but found himself in hot water last month after an incident with the referee while playing with the Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup. He argued and ripped up the ref's notebook, earning himself a three-match MLS suspension and two-year U.S. Open Cup ban. That incident threatened his eligibility for the Gold Cup and while he has been cleared to play, Klinsmann spoke with Dempsey and decided that it would be best for the player to focus on his play and not the captaincy.
"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," Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. "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."
Klinsmann did not commit to anything after the Gold Cup. Bradley could stay the captain, or it could go to someone else.
Bradley has never been the team's designated captain, but has worn the armband at times in the absence of the captain. The midfielder has 98 caps to his name despite being just 27 years old and has had a leadership role on the team for years now so his choice makes complete sense.
Most people expected Bradley to be named captain when Dempsey was given the armband. Dempsey was a surprise choice, but the manager said that he wanted to force Dempsey to be more of a leader. That showed how Klinsmann views the captaincy, as much of a tool as a designation as the team's leader. Bradley would be every bit the leader he was with or without the armband and he was so now that he is the captain, don't expect much to change. The team's hierarchy is already cemented, armband be damned.