Michael Bradley handed USA captaincy over Clint Dempsey for Gold Cup

The Toronto FC midfielder has captained Jurgen Klinsmann's side on several occasions since March in the absence of their usual skipper.

In a move many thought likely, US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named Michael Bradley as captain for this month’s Gold Cup over usual skipper Clint Dempsey.

Bradley has captained the US on several occasions in 2015 in the absence of Dempsey, who has missed out on the last few squads due to injury and the birth of his fourth child, respectively, and has played some of the best football of his international career in the process.

With his leadership qualities well-publicised at this point, Klinsmann has now opted to hand the Toronto FC midfielder the armband for the upcoming tournament to allow his veteran teammate the chance to focus on his playing duties.

The decision comes in the wake of an incident in the US Open Cup last month, when Dempsey was shown a red card after ripping up the referee’s notebook in extra-time of the Seattle Sounders’ 3-1 defeat to Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers – an act which earned him a two-year ban from the competition.

Speaking to US Soccer, Klinsmann revealed that the pair spoke after the Sounders forward linked up with the squad in Nashville this week ahead of Friday’s friendly against Guatemala and decided that it would be the best decision for the squad at this time.

He added that no decision has been made on the captaincy after the Gold Cup but did stress that Dempsey remains an integral member of his team and will play a prominent role in their efforts to defend their 2013 title over the coming weeks.

“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,” said Klinsmann. “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.”

Bradley, who also serves as captain for Toronto, skippered the US for the first time in March’s 3-2 defeat to Denmark, before leading them to upset victories over the Netherlands and Germany last month.

The former Aston Villa and Roma midfielder, who has 98 caps to his name, has long-been earmarked as the side’s future skipper and it would be no surprise if Klinsmann’s decision was the first step towards him being handed the role on a full-time basis.

He will now lead the side out for their Gold Cup opener against Honduras on 7 July, before they round off the group stages with games against Haiti and Panama on 10 July and 13 July, respectively.

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