Should Donovan and Dempsey Start Against Jamaica?

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.

Why Did FIFA Schedule International Friendlies this Week, Again?

We said it yesterday, and will second it now: This is a strange time for FIFA to mandate a bunch of international friendlies.

Just one month after the World Cup, and only days before most major domestic leagues are scheduled to get under way (and while MLS rounds toward its homestretch), players will be called to crisscross the globe to represent their countries.

Check the schedule here.

In the argument posed here, well, we have to take Harry (or ’Arry) Redknapp’s side.

England is playing Hungary at Wembley today. What if Wayne Rooney or Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard picks up a knock, days before the opening weekend of the Premier League?

You can bet that Mssrs. Ferguson, Ancelotti, and Hodgson will be joining the Redknapp Chorus, and we wouldn’t blame them.

Closer to home, the Red Bulls host a pivotal Eastern Conference battle tonight with Toronto FC—the team right behind them in the standings—and the home side will be decimated as five of its players were called for international duty, including newly signed designated player Rafael Marquez.

Fortunately for Red Bulls fans, Estonia’s Joel Lindpere declined his call-up, but the team will have to do without Marquez, keeper Bouna Coundoul (Senegal), winger Dane Richards (Jamaica), and defender Roy Miller (Costa Rica).

And for what? There’s no rush for teams to test new players. The next cycle of World Cup qualifying doesn’t start for more than a year (at the earliest; the U.S. won’t start its campaign until 2012), and, again, the World Cup final was one month ago.

Come on, FIFA, give us a chance to savor that one before you start cramming the next cycle down our throats—and let your already-overtaxed players have a few gaps in their schedule.

And while you’re at it, get on that instant replay issue, stat.

Question of the Week

If Inter Milan beats Bayern Munich tomorrow to win the Champions League and complete the triple of Serie A, Italian Cup, and Champions League titles, will the United Nations need to adopt a policy of containment w/r/t Inter coach Jose Mourinho’s ego?

Discuss in the comments.

That game is on Fox (not Fox Soccer Channel) at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Other games of note on TV this weekend (all times EST):

Saturday, May 22

Blackpool v Cardiff, Championship Final, Fox Soccer Plus, 10: 00 a.m.

Toronto v New England, MLS, Direct Kick, 1:00 p.m.

Seattle v San Jose, MLS, Fox Soccer Channel, 3:00 p.m.

Turkey v Czech Republic, International Friendly, Fox Soccer Plus, 6:00 p.m.

Houston v D.C. United, MLS, Galavision, 8:00 p.m.

Chivas USA v Real Salt Lake, MLS, Direct Kick, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 23

New York (MLS) v Juventus, International Friendly, Fox Soccer Channel, 1:00 p.m.

Kansas City v Columbus, MLS, Direct Kick, 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy the games.