Penning an open letter in the Players' Tribune, Alejandro Bedoya talks about two main subjects - respect and Clint Dempsey. They are intertwined in a lot of ways, because this is a United States soccer player on the day of their greatest match under the current coach. Argentina looms large. They are frighteningly good.
But Bedoya has no fear. And he is not worried about respect. Because in his mind he has the respect of those that matter - the team and its fans.
We're listening to each other and we're listening to you. Because for as much doubt as we've faced, our fans have faced it too. Americans don't get soccer. They don't understand the game. They'll never embrace it. We're not listening to that noise, either. We know that, together with our fans, we're growing the game.
Before we step out onto the pitch, Jurgen tells us, "Let's get the crowd behind us." Usually he's a pretty mellow guy who keeps us on an even keel. But you've seen it these past few weeks — he's jumping around, he's throwing his arms up and down. He doesn't want that golf-clap crowd. Neither do we. And our fans haven't been that. They've been there, right along with us, proving the doubters wrong.
Bedoya's letter is equal parts hype-post and insight into Clint Dempsey, the former Captain America. Now, Ale is showing that he and Clint are friends, but the insight is clear. Clint is still a leader on this team. Maybe not the leader, but one of them. Dempsey's leadership is something the Seattle Sounders know. It's rough, angry, passionate and short on words.
Clint's got this — I don't know really what to call it — he's just got this Texas swagger. A never-back-down attitude.
No matter the situation, Clint gives it his all. Even in training some players might think, Oh, I don't want to get injured. Well, Clint's gonna go through that tackle, he's gonna throw that elbow up, he's gonna push you away.
Seriously, do not mess with Texas. Clint is blunt. He doesn't say much. "Pick it up," is the most you'll get from him. That, and maybe an elbow. And you've got to respect him for that.
Clint has three goals, three assists and an opportunity tonight. Bedoya will not be on the field. Neither will Jermaine Jones or Bobby Wood.
Down three of the vital players in this historic run the US are underdogs. Even with those players they would be underdogs.
But Bedoya, Klinsmann and the rest of the team feel they have something that Argentina does not have. They have Texas. They have the United States of America.
Alejandro wants to see a whole team and stadium full of Clint Dempsey's Texas Swagger.
Just maybe Argentina will learn that you don't mess with Texas.