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Donovan, Dempsey reflect on their whirlwind weekend


 Photo by Brad Smith/ 


WASHINGTON – After the final whistle blew at RFK Stadium on Sunday and the U.S. national team had celebrated its 2-0 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, midfielder Landon Donovan took a moment to reflect on a whirlwind weekend that, he was happy to say, turned out memorable for all the right reasons.

"It's been wonderful," Donovan said. "It's a little exhausting, but when you see your twin sister get married and win a quarterfinal game in a Gold Cup within 14 hours, that's not too bad."

Donovan and teammate Clint Dempsey both had family weddings to attend Saturday — Donovan's in California, Dempsey's in Texas — causing them to miss the past three days of U.S. training and not arrive in Washington until Sunday morning. 

Donovan's flight landed in the nation's capital at about 7:30 a.m., less than eight hours before kickoff. The national team's all-time leading scorer then ate breakfast and chatted with coach Bob Bradley before getting an hour of sleep and beginning preparation for a match Bradley decided he would not start.

"When you make decision on a lineup, you size up all sorts of things," Bradley explained. "It's been a busy stretch for Landon and we felt with an afternoon game, it made sense to use him as a reserve, and that we could bring him on and he would give us a lot.

Dempsey's plane, on the other hand, arrived from Nacogdoches, Texas, shortly before Donovan's. Bradley elected to start Dempsey on the left flank in the Americans' 4-2-3-1 formation, and the 28-year-old responded by playing the entire contest and sealing the U.S. win with an 80th-minute strike.

"I said, 'I'm ready to go,'" Dempsey recalled. "I was disappointed with my performance against Guadeloupe [on Tuesday], that I wasn't able to finish some of the chances that I got. I wanted to make sure that I came out today and did whatever I could to help the team win."

Donovan, meanwhile, entered as a 65th-minute substitute for midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, with the U.S. already leading 1-0 on a Jermaine Jones tally, and helped set up Dempsey's clincher.

The two instrumental attacking players received permission from Bradley to leave the team ahead of the quarterfinals well in advance, and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati arranged the private flights that ensured Donovan and Dempsey touched down in Washington in time.

"I know we get caught up in the soccer world, but there certainly are things that are equally if not more important to a lot of us," Donovan said. "I am very grateful that Bob and U.S. Soccer made all the efforts to not only let us go but to get us here so we could contribute."

Discussing his decision to release the players ahead of a critical match, Bradley brought up similar circumstances surrounding his own wedding in 1986. His brother, Scott, a catcher who spent most of his career with the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, was set to be the best man.

Scott, however, was traded shortly before the wedding. So Bob told his brother "before he had five seconds to think about it" that he should stay with his team and miss the ceremony.

But as Bob Bradley noted, "That doesn't mean just because I did it that way, that's right for somebody else. You learn in all of this there's give and take, and you always try to do what's best for the team. And you make tough decisions.

"Ultimately, after speaking at different points with Landon and Clint, I knew how important both of these days were for them. "

When all was said and done, Donovan and Dempsey both played roles as the Yanks advanced to Wednesday's semifinals in Houston all the same. While Dempsey realized it wasn't the most conventional route, he was glad to appease both his team and family loyalties.

"I just wanted to pay back the U.S. team for letting me go to my sister's wedding, put in a good performance and not let the travel be an excuse," Dempsey said.


  1. he’s sponsored by Nike and is in all the new Superfly commercials, that’s why he wears the crazy new Superflys all the time like Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil who are in those commercials too

  2. what, have you never seen Donovan do the jumping fist pump? watch his first goal for Everton, or many of his MLS goals

  3. Nice video! Alfred Koroma (goal #3) looks promising. The skill to beat 2 defenders, and the poise to finish that way. Great kid! I watched him play in high school in TX, and he is a phenom in the making.

  4. Ha ha! I was thinking the same thing. Dempsey wearing the purple and yellow number? I thought he was a Texan! You cant buy those in Texas, at least not in public.

    My question is: Nacogdoches has an airport?

  5. Exactly – to play for the USMNT, these guys are giving up time (maybe even a game(s)) with their club team to play for free for the USMNT. If in doing so they have a bad game, for the USMNT coach to say it publicly and bluntly is potentially career-damaging. My understanding is BB and his staff do a good job of letting each player in the player pool know PRIVATELY where they stand. Say what negatives you what about tactics and such, but I get the impression he manages the players pretty well (FAR better than many other countries’ MNT’s coaches).

  6. Your twin gets married, you go. End of story. Your remaining sister gets married, you go. End of story.

    By the way, when did cleats all get so ugly?

  7. +1

    Has anyone heard Bob refer to any player in more negative way than to say something like “We thought ___ had some good moments, but kind of of struggled with some things today” ?

  8. some of our guys needs to learn how to finish with those kids! awesome! I just remember when we lost 3-0 in 2006… feels great to have a payback.

  9. Cabrera has put together a quality side. A US team that takes on players all over the field. It was a very nice win for the U-17s.

  10. While it prefectly legitimate to questions some of Bobs decisions, there needs to be less irrational hate flung at the man. He is a class individual.

  11. While we are talking goal celebrations I have to say I really liked Jermaine Jones’ salute. His dad was a US serviceman and it was father’s day very fitting. I’m sure it probably had nothing to do with that but it works perfectly nontheless.

  12. Yo, the direct quote of Dempsey after his goal (the lip reading was made easier cuz they played it in slow mo on the replay):

    “Ya b#tches can’t see me!!! Kiss my muthaf###in a#s!”

    haha. LOVE IT! Tell em why you mad, Deuce!


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