United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named Michael Bradley as captain for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
Klinsmann opted to hand Bradley the role for the upcoming tournament to allow Clint Dempsey to focus on his playing duties in the wake of an incident in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 16.
Dempsey and Klinsmann spoke after Dempsey joined U.S. training camp in Nashville this week ahead of the friendly against Guatemala on Friday (live, 6:30p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Go) and the upcoming Gold Cup.
After Dempsey and Klinsmann discussed Dempsey’s actions in the Open Cup and the subsequent fallout from his conduct, Klinsmann decided to name Bradley as captain for this tournament to allow Dempsey to concentrate solely on his performances over the next few weeks.
Klinsmann revealed the decision to the entire squad in a team meeting held here in Nashville on Wednesday night. There has been no decision made regarding the status of the captaincy after the tournament.
Dempsey remains an integral figure in the squad. He is expected to play a prominent role for the Americans as they attempt to retain the Gold Cup and secure a place in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
“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."
Klinsmann added: "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 featured as captain for the first time in the 3-2 defeat to Denmark in March and wore the armband in the victories over Netherlands and Germany next month. Bradley, 27, is expected to reach 100 caps in the Gold Cup opener against Honduras on July 7. He also serves as captain for Toronto FC.