In case you hadn’t heard, U.S. midfielders Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan are in Texas and California, respectively, right now, attending their sisters’ weddings while the rest of the U.S. team is in Washington, D.C., preparing for Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica (3:00 ET, Fox Soccer Channel).
Both players are scheduled to travel Saturday night and be available for selection on Sunday.
Now, considering the pair’s status on the U.S. team (they’re the top two players), and the stakes of the game (win or go home), they probably will start the game.
But the question remains, should they start?
Would it reflect badly on the team, and on coach Bob Bradley’s authority, if they were to make the first XI after missing training and flying back the night before such a big game?
Let us know what you think in the comments.
Our first thought when we heard the news was Sure hope this doesn’t become a postgame talking point. That remains the main issue for us. If the U.S. stumbles against Jamaica, and Donovan and Dempsey don’t deliver, look for this story to blow up.
There are other factors as well: What message does this send to the rest of the U.S. team, and more importantly, what does it say to Jamaica? Is this bulletin-board for the Reggae Boyz, as in, The U.S.’s best two players think they can get off a plane, stiff legs and all, the night before playing us and still get the job done. We’ll show them.
Either way, this will be a tough match for the Yanks, as Jamaica is riding high, having won all three of their group games without conceding a goal.
The Reggae Boyz have plenty of experienced players, several of whom play in Norway’s top flight, and six who play in MLS—Donovan Ricketts (Los Angeles), Ryan Johnson (San Jose), Dane Richards (New York), Shavar Thomas (Sporting Kansas City), Dicoy Williams (Name Hall of Famer, Toronto), and Jermaine Taylor (Houston).
Jamaica’s roster might have included two more MLSers, Colorado’s Omar Cummings and Tyrone Marshall, but Cummings is hurt and Marshall decided to remain with the injury-plagued Rapids.
The most obvious quality of the Jamaican team is outstanding team speed, but this group, as Reggae Boyz veteran Robbie Earle told Extra Time Radio recently, plays a more sophisticated style, and will look to vary as well as dictate the tempo of Sunday’s game.
Containing the in-form Johnson (two goals in Gold Cup play) and the lightning-fast Richards will be two top priorities for the Yanks.