Perhaps not a huge surprise. After Carlos Bocanegra there was Landon Donovan. After Landon Donovan there was Tim Howard. After Tim Howard there is Clint Dempsey. Those four players have always been seen as the crux of the USMNT for the past few years now. So, in theory at least, it makes a huge amount of sense for Dempsey to take over the reigns after the previous three players were ruled out.
Here's what Jurgen Klinsmann had to say about it:
"Clint is one of our most experienced players and ready to assume a more vocal leadership role. He has been huge for us in World Cup Qualifying so far and is already one of our key leaders. We know he will do a great job for these two important games."
Pretty much what we all expected to hear. Dempsey has a knack for coming up big in USMNT matches that the USA are expected to struggle with and his consistency hasn't ever really been an issue as it has with other players.
Still, his becoming captain has got me thinking about who comes next. Once these four players are indefinitely ruled out, who fills those shoes? You have to think that, at this point, that time is not far off. Bocanegra is 33, Donovan is 31, Howard is 34, and Dempsey is 30. While each is expected to be at least still playing soccer by the 2014 World Cup, the 2018 one is a little hazy.
The most immediate player that comes to my mind, when thinking about the national team, is Michael Bradley. While I don't know him personally, and I'm sure that plays a large role in it, he seemingly has all of the leadership qualities we could want in a future captain. In fact, he could probably take over today. He's a solid midfielder. He isn't afraid to speak his mind. And he's pretty dang consistent both on the field and off the field.
Some other names I've been mulling, though I'm not as familiar with them:
That last name might be a tad controversial due to the fact that Klinsmann was rumored to give him the armband this go around and the fact that he's German-American. Still, he's not afraid to push and shove in the midfield and his work ethic is something I enjoy watching. I'm also not one to discount him for his primary nationality.
Regardless, whoever comes after will certainly have some big shoes to fill.
What do you think of Clint Dempsey taking the captain's armband for the next two USMNT games? Who do you predict will come after that?