At first I thought it was just an outrageous claim from some random person on some random social media. But it wasn’t. Alexi Lalas, among others on Fox Sports, actually discussed the possibility of putting Clint Dempsey on the bench for the next match.
The 33 year old came the closes of anyone on the USMNT to scoring, missing out on a couple chances by just a few inches. Despite all the futility that the team was piling up, Dempsey rarely looked like a main contributor of that futility.
So why then the outrageous claims that Dempsey should be sat? So that Gyasi Zardes and Christian Pulisic can start.
Don’t get me wrong, I think both Zardes and Pulisic are fantastic players and they have shown enough to deserve to start. But not at Clint Dempsey’s expense. The USMNT had one main perpetrator in their loss to Colombia. And I don’t think I need to tell you who if you’ve been following my rants lately. It’s Michael Bradley. If anyone should make way, it should be him.
The thing about Dempsey is that he can influence the game from more positions than striker. He can play that No. 10 role and be a hinge like Bradley is supposed to be.
There is no easy solution to the USMNT’s problems. But I will go ahead and propose my own idea. A 4-4-2. With the same back line, Klinsmann can utilize Bobby Wood wide left, Jermaine Jones and literally anyone except Michael Bradley in the middle, I would prefer Darlington Nagbe. Then wide right can be Zardes or Pulisic and up front can be Dempsey and whoever of Zardes and Pulisic isn’t placed out wide.
Dempsey is far more valuable to the USMNT then Bradley is and the very concept that Fox Sports is calling Bradley the US’s best player while they discuss the possibility of benching Dempsey is infuriating. Dempsey can wear the captain’s armband just as well as Bradley does and chances are he won’t manage the same massive number of giveaways.
Another option is to give Dempsey a No. 10 slot in a 4-2-3-1 formation. With Jones and Nagbe at the base, Bobby Wood and Pulisic out wide, Dempsey in the middle and Zardes up front, the USMNT can take another angle to their attack – an attack that was woefully stale against Colombia.
Changes have to be made. With just two games left and maximum points needed, shifting some personnel only makes sense. But that ‘sense’ doesn’t come from moving Dempsey – the one man that is always reliable.