All in all, the United States’ 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago went about as well as hoped. The USMNT got three needed points, moved up to third in the Hex standings and even got a pair of goals from 18-year-old wunderkind Christian Pulisic.
But at least one player didn’t seem entirely satisfied. Clint Dempsey was pulled in the 61st minute. On his way to the sideline he declined to shake hands with Bruce Arena and then exchanged words with the USMNT coach.
The removal came with the USA leading 1-0 and they did add a second goal just moments later, so it’s hard to second-guess the decision too much.
But Dempsey’s a competitive guy and is unaccustomed to coming out of any game that early, World Cup qualifier or not. He’d also come close to scoring on two occasions and likely figured more opportunities were coming as the Soca Warriors were forced to stretch a bit. Although he’s said the record isn’t important, it’s hard not to think that his pursuit of Landon Donovan didn’t factor at least a little into his frustration.
Arena, though, didn’t seem to bothered (via the Washington Post):
“He wants to be on the field. However, my job is to do what I think is right for the team to position us to win a game. I understand that. He’s a very competitive guy. We talked about it. He’s okay.”
Chances are Dempsey is going to start again on Sunday. If Dempsey’s playing with a little extra fire, that’s probably not a bad thing. It’s probably not the worst thing for the Sounders that he saved his legs a little bit, too.