June 16, 2011
By Michael Lewis
Donovan, Dempsey absence won’t upset U.S. preparations
WASHINGTON, D.C. — If the U.S. National Team has any problems with the absence of star midfielders Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey from practice prior to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica, they are not saying so.
|Clint Dempsey will be back with the U.S. team in time for Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica, as will team captain Landon Donovan, after both attend their sisters’ weddings.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Donovan and Dempsey will miss team practice Thursday through Saturday while they attend their sisters’ weddings in California and Texas, respectively.
The U.S. plays Jamaica in a quarterfinal match at RFK Stadium at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Bradley gave permission to the duo to attend the weddings well before the Gold Cup.
“As a coach, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions,” Bradley said after practice at the RFK Stadium auxiliary field on Thursday. “Certainly, we have always respected what family means to players. In these cases, after speaking to the two players, these are important days for them and their families. So you weigh that vs. just the team and you balance it out and make decisions.”
Bradley said that he and the team were not concerned about the duo’s absence.
“When you’re into a tournament like this, the days after hard games are also regeneration days,” he said. “I think much of our preparation work has been done.”
Dempsey and Donovan will return after Saturday’s weddings through private flights arranged by U.S. Soccer, an organization spokesman said.
Their teammates were not upset or think that it would have any impact that the two stars would not be practicing with the team prior to this vital knockout round match.
“I don’t think much,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “I keep saying the chemistry is important. It’s still here. I know there’s no dissension in the group. Life’s funny, man. There’s all types of things that make the world go round. Family is important obviously. This team is a family and so we’re all here for one another. We’re all pressing forward to the goal. They’ll be here and I’m certain they’ll be ready. If they’re not, coach will make the decision, but I’m certain they will be.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley had similar sentiments.
“It was important for these guys and their families to be at the weddings,” he said. “So, as a team, we respect that and understand how important family is. These few days of training, nothing major is going to be accomplished. It’s about recovering from the three games that came quickly. It’s about getting your legs back, mentally being fresh and just making sure that come Sunday at three ‘clock everybody is ready to go. We know they will be.”