[USA-COSTA RICA]Nighttime temperatures are approaching freezing in the Denver area -- there's a threat of light snow in the forecast for Friday night's USA-Costa Rica qualifier -- but there's been plenty to keep U.S. national team players hot about. Senior members of the national team pushed back at a report in which players anonymously questioned Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics and the national team’s chemistry. Michael Bradley called the report "shameful" and "embarrassing," while Clint Dempsey, newly installed as team captain for Friday's match against Costa Rica and Tuesday's game at Mexico, had little time for what described as "the little petty things."
“I think it’s shameful, and I think it’s embarrassing,” said Bradley of the Sporting News article. “I think for every guy who has ever played on a team, you give everything you have … and on every team in the world, not every guy is going to be happy. There’s going to be guys who go back to their room and talk with their roommate about things they wish were different. But that’s normal."
In the manner of his father, former national team coach Bob Bradley, who emphasized the need to keep team matters within the team, Bradley's disappointment was that players took their issues "outside of the inner circle.”
“It doesn’t help anybody or anything we’re trying to do this week,” Bradley said. “When you play on a team, you have a chance every day to give everything you have, and part of that means having the balls to say things to guys to their face, and having the balls to say things in front of the team. I think in those ways, that this is really disappointing that in a week as important as this ... that you’d have something like that happen.”
Bradley said he and his teammates can wipe out the stain placed on the team when they face Costa Rica Friday night.
"It is our job to represent ourselves and represent our country in a way that makes everybody proud," he said. "I think that we have let ourselves down a little bit in that way but the best part about sports is that when you step on the field you can put everything right."
Dempsey said that the players had discussed the report but he had not read it and played down its significance.
“It doesn’t matter about the little petty things here or there," he said.
Dempsey is the fifth captain during Klinsmann's 19-month tenure as national team coach. Of the players in camp, only DaMarcus Beasley has more caps (97) than Dempsey (92). He only captained the USA once before: during the second half of a 0-0 draw against Colombia in 2010.
A new captain was required as Tim Howard, who wore the armband for the opening Hexagonal match against Honduras, is injured, and Carlos Bocanegra, who has been the American captain since 2007, was dropped from the team because he has not been playing for his Spanish club, Racing Santander.
Both Howard and Bocanegra are in Europe, where they issued statements in support of the national team.
U.S. Captains, Klinsmann era
17 Carlos Bocanegra
3 Tim Howard
2 Jermaine Jones
1 Kyle Beckerman