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Can the USA survive without Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley?
by Paul Kennedy, August 30th, 2012 1:45AM
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TAGS:  men's national team, world cup, world cup 2014


[USA SPOTLIGHT] The U.S. national team played without Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the field at the same time for the first 11 games of the Jurgen Klinsmann era and survived. But what was unimaginable was that Donovan, Dempsey and Michael Bradley, the three key players in the USA's front six for the last five years, could all be unavailable for the next two World Cup 2014 qualifiers Sept. 7 and Sept. 11 against Jamaica, the toughest opponent in its group. Just how important is the trio? At the 2010 World Cup, 2009 Confederations Cup and in the 2009 Hexagonal, where the USA enjoyed unprecedented success, the trio had a hand in 25 of the 31 U.S. goals.

Donovan suffered a hamstring injury early in the USA's win at Mexico on Aug. 15 and has not played since. Dempsey, who asked to be transferred by Fulham, hasn't played since the Guatemala-USA World Cup 2014 qualifier in June. And Bradley, who debuted with Italian club Roma, suffered a quadriceps injury that could keep him sidelined for up to a month.

Dempsey's future will be determined in the next day as Europe's summer transfer window ends Friday night. Klinsmann didn't call him into the Mexico game but he could bring him in for the Jamaica series.

How important is the trio?

-- Bradley, Dempsey and Donovan scored all five goals for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. Dempsey's goal gave the USA a 1-1 tie with England in their opener, and Donovan put the Americans through to the second round with his last-second goal against Algeria, the second of three in four games.

-- Bradley, Dempsey and Donovan combined for six of the eight goals the USA scored in its run to second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup.

-- Bradley, Dempsey or Donovan had a hand in 15 of the 19 goals the USA scored in the Hexagonal, the final round of World Cup 2010 qualifying in Concacaf. Bradley had three goals -- including the two against Mexico to kick off the Hexagonal with a 2-0 win in Columbus, Ohio. Dempsey had only one goal and one assist, but Donovan carried the team with three goals and nine assists in the 10 games he started.

Who will step up if they're not around? That's a question U.S. fans may be asking sooner than they ever imagined.

  1. Jim Nguyen
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.
    Well, we beat Mexico without Dempsey and Bradley, and Donovan was pretty much invisible for his 45 minutes, so yes we can win without them.
  1. Andrew Stout
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 9:42 a.m.
    Jim, I totally agree. I want to see more of those young guys. They earned it in Azteca and they are only going to get better as they learn the system.
  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
    I also agree that we do have younger players that are eager to show what they can do an have done well for the USA thus far. I think that Dempsey is a key player that performs an provides leadership to the team, thus, would like to see him on the squad, even if for less time on the pitch...again, my reason for wanting the MLS teams to provide residential academies for youngsters of high school age with training an developement for the pro ranks....
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 10:03 a.m.
    I think we're at more risk of losing if JK tries to plug an unfit Dempsey into the team just because he's available. I'd rather see Altidore (who I typically don't care for), Boyd (who seems like the next big thing), and Herc Gomez up top than Dempsey right now.
  1. Bret Newman
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
    I think he should at least call in Dempsey to training camp. From there JK can tell whether Dempsey is fit to play or not. However, I doubt he is ready to play a full 90 minutes.
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
    Bradley is the key loss because, Jones is not as good a box to box mid, especially in linking and attack. Donovan has already been missing 80% of the time the last year, and he is mostly a shell of his former self in Klinsmann's type of controlled possession scheme. Dempsey will be missed too but we have Gomez, Altidore, Boyd, Shea are all in game shape. So no big loss here. If Klinsmann wants a crafty player sitting under the forward(s) call in Sasha K, play him centrally, with minimal defensive responsbility-- where he can succeed. Thus far JK only has played him out wide, setting him up to fail.
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 1:17 p.m.
    The answer to the questioned posed, is WHOMEVER WE PUT UP TOP! Although we would always like to score more goals, the issue of who would make an impact and contribute up top is minor compared to our wing play (sometimes non-existent), and our revolving defensive four. Sure would like to see our outside backs be able to push forward and attack knowing we both have the speed AND technical positioning to thwart conterattacks when necessary.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
    I think we will do just fine with our talented young crop with Shea, Agudelo, Boyd, Gomez, Torres etc.
  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 5:19 p.m.
    Ric, it's not like we outplayed Mexico...
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: August 30, 2012 at 9:27 p.m.
    Mark, When did "outplaying" have to do with anything? If you want moral victories, move to France! When any of us look back to the USA victory in Mexico in the near future and beyond, all that matters is the "W"! Who here was ever coached, or has ever lead a team onto the field with the mantra, "lets go out their boys and outplay them"?? Let's stop the negative rhetoric (not speaking to you Mark specifically) and take our support to the next level. I love soccer discussions as much as the next guy, but anyone can be a Monday morning quarterback! The goal (pun intended) is to hit the net (inside of course) more times then your adversary. I leave for Jamaica in four days and I'll take all of your passions for the boys with me if you'd like! Freaking USA (and only USA)FOREVER!!
  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: August 31, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.
    I wish Stuart Holden was match fit for those two matches--when will he be back?
  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: August 31, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
    No bueno. If we lose, we're in deep trouble. If we win, then our depth of talent will be validated and all will be well.

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