It was hardly a surprise that Clint Dempsey was left off the United States' roster for Wednesday's friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina as the news had been leaked last week. But U.S. manager Jugen Klinsmann had to yet to speak about it until today. While we are obviously free to believe as much or as little of Klinsmann's explanation as we want, his reasoning seems simple enough.
Essentially, Klinsmann chalks it up to a crazy time in Dempsey's life during his interview with USSoccer.com.
"It's been a huge week. Having Clint back in the United States and joining MLS is big and I think everyone in the U.S. is excited about the news. I am thrilled for MLS because you have an outstanding player now hopefully filling more stadiums and getting even more kids and people excited about the game. For Clint it's a challenge, coming from one of the top leagues in the world, coming back to the U.S. and being back in MLS where we still have to work on a lot of things. Clint himself has set the highest benchmark for himself over the last year. He became our captain and he has to keep that benchmark and he knows that. I told him that over the last two years that he's got to go for the next level. Obviously we want the best Clint Dempsey ever and that's what we're going to push him toward as we begin to look toward Brazil. He has set a high standard for himself, and it's up to us coaches to make sure he keeps that high standard."
Klinsmann also explained why so few MLS players were called up, although he doesn't really address why the only two he called in were both Sounders.
"For the most part we wanted to leave the MLS players behind because it's a long way to go for a mid-week game in the heart of the season and many of them were with us a lot during the summer. This gives us a chance to look at some different players as well. At the same time, we still want a strong team so we have some guys from MLS and also from Liga MX. I told (Sounders head coach) Sigi Schmid that it's no problem to leave Clint off this roster. It's been a long week for Clint and he is still in preseason and getting a rhythm, so we leave him in Seattle and get him ready for the games in September."
So, there ya go. This was never really going to settle anything as far as the rumors regarding Klinsmann being displeased with Dempsey's decision and this game was never going to tell us much in that regard. While it is the final friendly before the next round of World Cup qualifiers, lots of A-listers were left off this roster, including the likes of Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.
What will be more interesting is what happens during the next round of qualifiers. As it looks now, Dempsey, Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson could all be called away for the U.S. games on Sept. 6 and 10. At the very least, that would mean they would miss the Sounders' home games against the Chicago Fire (Sept. 7) and quite possibly the home game against Real Salt Lake (Sept. 13). The best-case scenario probably involves the U.S. clinching their World Cup berth early and excusing from the Oct. 11 and 15 games some of the guys who have been leaned on most heavily up until then.