The general is now a captain.
Michael Bradley, who will make his 100th international cap appearance in the United State’s opening game of the Gold Cup on Tuesday night, is also taking over the reigns as captain of the USMNT. The United States’ match against Honduras is the second time Bradley, long considered the team’s defacto leader, will be wearing the arm band.
But how exactly did Bradley earn the honor and why isn’t Clint Dempsey the captain anymore? Here’s what you need to know:
Dempsey’s Referee Run-In
Clint Dempsey made headlines last month when the Seattle Sounders standout earned a red card after actually ripping up a referee’s notbeook late in match against Portland. Dempsey was suspended for three games by the MLS after the Sounder’s fourth-round loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup.
It also cost him his spot as captain of the U.S. men’s national team when coach Jurgen Klinsmann removed the title from the long-time player. Dempsey responded to the move ahead of the Gold Cup, telling ESPN:
It’s cool. Michael’s a great leader. He deserves to be captain. For me, I’m excited to be part of the team, trying to push to win the Gold Cup, be a part of the Confederations Cup. I got to experience being captain in the World Cup. For me, that was something special and I’ll always kind of remember, but it’s never been a big thing for me to be captain
Klinsmann Backs Bradley
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann officially announced that the 27-year-old Bradley would be taking over as the team’s captain earlier this week ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Klinsmann said that the move would help take some of the heat off of Dempsey and opted to promote Bradley as a means of extending his on-field presence.
Klinsmann added that he wasn’t sure if Bradley would continue to act as captain after the Gold Cup, telling the Associated Press that, “We’ll see after the Gold Cup how things are going.” Bradley, meanwhile, was humbled at his coach’s decision, calling the captaincy:
…a huge honor, a big responsibility, certainly one that I’m very excited about, but it doesn’t change who I am.
Bradley’s USMNT Performance Has Led to This Moment
Although he’s been a member of Team USA for less than a decade, Bradley’s impact on the team is already unquestionable and Goal.com claims that the ascension to captaincy was inevitable.
Ahead of the United State’s Gold Cup opener against Honduras, Bradley has started in 92 of his 99 national team appearances, recording 13 goals and 14 assists. He’s also not even 30 yet. In fact, Bradley won’t turn 28 until later this month. In other words, get used to seeing Bradley wearing that arm band for quite awhile.