Clint Dempsey is not just the captain of the United States national team: He is its symbol. While Michael Bradley may be the better all-around player, Tim Howard may be the player with the most impressive club resume and Jozy Altidore may be more important offensively, Dempsey is the one who is closest to a household name and who will draw the most attention.
That status brings a different kind of pressure. But it's also the type of pressure Dempsey has welcomed throughout his career.
Demspey may not relish in attention the way we've become accustomed to seeing other American athletes doing, but he doesn't exactly shy away from it either. Dempsey dutifully goes through the interview circuits, accepts seemingly every ad campaign that comes his way (how else to explain him eating beef jerkey or applying deodorant) and is the team's captain. Although some of these pressures seemed to be weighing him down after his big-money transfer to the Seattle Sounders, he's been arguably the best player in MLS this year. He may not be a world-class talent on the scale of others in the USMNT's group, but he only needs to look like one for a few weeks.
Caps: 105, Goals: 37
Service for United States: Ever since Dempsey broke into the national team, he's been a fixture and one of Jurgen Klinsmann's first decisions was to make him captain. The only games he's missed have essentially been for injury and even when his club form slumped last year, Klinsmann never even hinted that Dempsey's place in the squad was ever in danger. He's 10th all-time in the USMNT caps list and the second-leading scorer, behind only Landon Donovan.
What makes him interesting: As Bruce Arena once said, Dempsey "tries shit." That's become a ridiculously lazy cliche at this point, just because it's so overused, but it's also true in a way that simply isn't about any other player in the USMNT pool. Sure, trying a rabona when a simple cross would do has its downsides, but there's an unpredictable nature to his game that must be accounted for.
What to expect in Brazil: Dempsey is more of a scorer than a playmaker, but on a team without a true creative engine he needs to be a bit of a hybrid. That doesn't mean he must pile up assists, but he needs to occupy defenders, creating shooting space for Altidore and room to roam for Bradley.