Clint Dempsey Is Falling Down On His Leadership Responsibilities With The USMNT

Clint Dempsey’s selection as captain of the United States Men’s National Team a year ago by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann was a head scratcher at the time. Having not displayed discernable leadership skills on the pitch, one had to assume the manager felt the need to either reward arguably his best player or that Dempsey possesses some inspirational quality in the dressing room.

What has been apparent however since he was named captain is that Dempsey is missing some of the vital ingredients to be a true leader on the pitch. His body language is often times negative and he is far from the most vocal USMNT regular. The player’s form has also dipped dramatically and the manager seemed disappointed by Dempsey not consulting him before his move from Tottenham to Seattle Sounders last summer.

After completing a very disappointing loan spell at Fulham, Dempsey captained the USMNT in the 2-0 loss to Ukraine. In that match, Dempsey’s mannerisms appeared negative and his play was poor. Then late in the match he acted out in an immature and childish way towards an opposition player and was fortunate not to be sent off.

At this point, Klinsmann might need to consider stripping Dempsey of the captaincy and giving it to another veteran player such as goalkeeper Tim Howard. Michael Bradley, who is also a regular and a vocal leader, is another possibility. For many months now, it has seemed Dempsey is going through the motions both at the club and national team level. While this may not actually be true, a captain is held to a higher standard and it is level Dempsey is not attaining currently.

The key would be to ensure that Klinsmann doesn’t change captains in a way that makes Dempsey, an already somewhat volatile character, check out on the national team before this summer’s World Cup. Handling Dempsey quietly before making an announcement would be advantageous. Or perhaps never making an announcement and just handing Howard or Bradley the armband for the first of the three send-off series friendlies before the World Cup would make sense.

Jürgen Klinsmann demands a level of commitment, leadership and excellence from his players that forces even the top stars away from their comfort zone. Dempsey has either gotten too comfortable in his situation or simply lost some of his passion and interest for the national team. Either way, a change is a good idea and I am confident Klinsmann is actively considering it. Whether he actually makes the change is a different matter entirely, but the points made in this article have certainly already crossed the mind of the manager on multiple occasions.

12 thoughts on “Clint Dempsey Is Falling Down On His Leadership Responsibilities With The USMNT”

  1. I could not agree more with this article. To be frank Dempsey has sucked since his move back to the MLS. I believe it was a huge mustake giving him the armband in the first place when Howard was more than deserving.

    If he is going to be one of our top players going into Brazil I think Team USA is in big big trouble. Its getting to a point where I even wonder if he can help in Brazil.

  2. Finally, someone with the guts to come out and say the obvious about Dempsey instead of listing excuses for him like all of the other soccer media here. Well done.

  3. Dempsey is suffering from Adebayor syndrome. Made a move to get a big paycheck. Not saying he’s become lazy, but his move was about $$, and now he is training with inferior players. It showed yesterday.

    Someone or something is going to have to inspire him, and quickly.

  4. I was never a fan of Dempsey becoming captain. He just doesn’t have that type of personality. If Landon never goes on that sabbatical then he probably would have been next in line for captaincy. Everyone knows Howard is a huge leader on the team but I think coaches like it better when a field player wears the armband.

    As for Clint on the field, he needs to move out of the #10 role he is in. He’s never been a guy who has the prettiest touches and distributes the ball all over the pitch. His best role in the Bob Bradley days and at Fulham (Tottenham too) has been at left mid cutting inside on his stronger foot to shoot. Leave the #10 role or central spot to Donovan who was fantastic there in the Gold Cup.

  5. Dempsey’s body language has always been that of a disinterested player (until he scores a goal) but he probably feels his best days are behind him and didn’t achieve all he thought he would, i.e. playing in the Champions League with a top club. He’ll pull his weight in Seattle but he’s in the downslide.

  6. Ever since he held at at Fulham he has stunk robbed money at Spurs robbed money from Sounders and robbed money from Fulham on loan.his star has dipped big time.

  7. Yeah….this is a problem. Who knows why he gave Dempsey the captaincy, but is it a problem. He probably shouldn’t be even starting for the national team right now. He’s just been awful for club and country for almost a year. I just watched his goal versus England the other day. Where has THAT guy gone? Everyone focused so much on the keeper’s error, but Deuce shook Gerrard out of his boots several times in that sequence. I mean, if it wasn’t for Green’s mistake, the English press would have been laughing at Gerrard.

    Now we’ve got a guy who just does NOTHING. Turns the ball over. Bad body language.

    My personal theory is that he’s probably depressed about how his move to Spurs worked out. There he learned that he isn’t quite good enough to be a KEY player on a really top club. After a career and lifetime of always reaching for the next level, he now has to realize that he is not getting better and he is not even playing for a better team. I’m sure he’s got a motivation issue. Some players fight through this….some don’t. The early signs on Dempsey are very, very poor.

  8. We’ve all seen it time and time again. Players like Dempsey make a change to a bigger club, or perceived bigger club and then falter. I don’t think Dempsey’s move away from Fulham was all his fault. Fulham has had manager issues yet unresolved.

    The jury is still out on his move to the MLS. If he succeeds it will be good for the MLS, if he fails, it will devalue the league to one of retirements and side shows.

  9. Howard and Bradley would both make very good captains. I would also recommend Landon Donovan as captain. He’s got experience and good leadership skills. I think Dempsey definitely isn’t really the right type for a captain, however.

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