CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Bradley will be the U.S. captain for the CONCACAF Gold Cup rather than Clint Dempsey.
Dempsey took over as the American captain from Carlos Bocanegra two years ago. He was suspended for three games by Major League Soccer for a confrontation with a referee June 16 in Seattle’s fourth-round loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup, when he grabbed a notebook from the official and tore it after a teammate was given a red card. He also was suspended for six U.S. Open Cup matches.
“It’s important to have Clint be in his best condition for us,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Thursday. “Clint is exceptional, an absolutely exceptional player. He’s proven that year in and year out. He’s proving that now in MLS, like Jozy (Altidore) does as well. We need him. We need him on board. We need him in a good mood. We need him to be enthusiastic about the next couple of weeks. And we need him to score.”
Klinsmann thinks it is too early to tell whether the switch could become permanent.
“We’ll see after the Gold Cup how things are going,” he said.
The Americans play Guatemala in an exhibition on Friday at Nashville, Tennessee, and open the defense of their Gold Cup title against Honduras on Tuesday, at Frisco, Texas — when Bradley could make his 100th international appearance. If the Americans win the Gold Cup, they would earn a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If another nation wins the Gold Cup, it would play the U.S. in a playoff for the Confederations Cup berth.
Bradley called the captaincy “a huge honor, a big responsibility, certainly one that I’m very excited about, but it doesn’t change who I am.”
“We’re lucky on this team we have a number of guys with big personalities who come in ready to push each other, ready to compete, ready to lead,” Bradley said. “That’s always been the strength of this team. I know that guys like Brad Guzan, Clint and Jozy will be right there with me. There’s a feeling amongst us and others that we’re all in this together.”
In other news, defender Greg Garza was added to the Americans’ 23-man Gold Cup roster in place of Brad Davis, who injured a knee.
The U.S. Soccer Federation also said forward Jordan Morris, who was on the 35-man preliminary Gold Cup roster, has a stress fracture in a leg. Morris posted a photo on Instagram of himself prior to surgery. He is expected to be ready to play for the fall season at Stanford, where he will be a junior.
“Jordan Morris was a guy on our radar for the final knockout stage,” Klinsmann said. “He would have come in already training with the team for the first portion, but with the injury that he got we felt that it was safer to deal with it right now immediately, so he’s going to be out for four to six weeks.
“It’s a bummer for him, because he’s done extremely well over the last year. He’s one of our most promising talents coming through the ranks, but those setbacks happen and maybe we see him toward the end of the tournament joining the group just for the fun of it. It’s just sad for him because he was in very good shape.”