Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN ITEL
The 2014 World Cup is fast approaching, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s biggest fear has to be the thought of losing a key player to a serious injury. That would have made watching Clint Dempsey play last weekend against Toronto FC especially worrisome after, in Klinsmann’s words, Dempsey was fouled repeatedly.
The U.S. Men’s National Team head coach sounded off Wednesday on the rough play directed at Seattle Sounders forward and national team captain Clint Dempsey in a U.S. Soccer video. He said Saturday’s game against Toronto FC, in which Dempsey was fouled six times in a 2-1 loss, was especially egregious.
“Obviously, we are a little bit worried about Clint Dempsey getting fouled I don’t know how many times in this game against Toronto,” Klinsmann said. “Because your key players, in a certain way, you want them to be a little bit protected, protected in a way where people can’t overdo it.”
The health of Dempsey being his key worry — he battled injury problems throughout the summer after coming to Seattle in August — Klinsmann said Dempsey is being fouled “over the edge” in every game.
“I hope MLS is having an eye on that,” Klinsmann said.
Dempsey has been fouled eight times this season, tied for fourth in the league, although he didn’t play a full match in Seattle’s season opener two weeks ago. Last year, Dempsey was fouled 27 times in 12 appearances, No. 1 in the league for most fouls suffered per 90 minutes played (3.6), according to MLS.
“I understand every opponent that faces Clint Dempsey, it’s how do we want to shut him down, so you’ve got to be on your toes and you’ve got to be very physical but all within the rules,” Klinsmann said. “What I saw there on the weekend, there were certain things not within the rules anymore. So I hope that our players, in a certain way, get a little bit of protection because they need to be healthy going into the World Cup.”
What Klinsmann did not address in the interview was Dempsey’s own actions in the Toronto FC match, which included him hitting an opponent below the belt in an off-the-ball incident that could lead to a suspension.
What do you think of Klinsmann’s concerns? Does Dempsey get more than his fair share of physical play? Agree that USMNT players should receive special treatment?
Share your thoughts below.