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Klinsmann on Dempsey’s referee incident: “Mistakes happen”

photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports


MLS has already punished Clint Dempsey. The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel might, too.

Jurgen Klinsmann apparently does not see the need to add to that with a sanction of his own.

Dempsey was the subject of much conversation last week after he took a notebook out of a match official’s pocket and tore it up in the Seattle Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup loss to the rival Portland Timbers. The 32-year-old attacker was immediately sent off for his actions, and was handed a three-match suspension from MLS later in the week.

While a U.S. Open Cup committee will decide in the coming days whether or not to further discipline Dempsey, Klinsmann seems to be taking a more lenient approach. The U.S. Men’s National Team head coach plans to soon have a chat with Dempsey about the incident, but Klinsmann sounds ready to move on from it as the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup draws near.

“It’s something that nobody wants to see. It’s a mistake, and mistakes happen,” said Klinsmann, who learned of what had happened while on the internet in Europe. “Obviously when he comes in next week to Nashville in preparation for our friendly game with Guatemala, we’ll sit down and talk through that and we’ll go from there.”

Dempsey has served as U.S. captain in the past, but it is unknown if he will again fill that role during next month’s Gold Cup.

Klinsmann has iterated time and again during his tenure as U.S. manager that players need to be consummate, 24/7 professionals who are responsible for their actions on and off the field. Still, Klinsmann understands that frustrations can boil over in games.

“It’s something that nobody wants to go through,” said Klinsmann. “Nobody wants to get red carded. Nobody wants to get suspended and be in discussion by the fans and the media for a mistake you make. But on the other hand, it’s part of the game, too. We’ll take a little bit of a step back and we’ll discuss it in person in a relaxed way and go from there. “

Klinsmann, Dempsey, and the rest of the U.S. will gear up for their CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense next week. The Americans will first take on Guatemala in a friendly at LP Field on July 3 before beginning tournament play four days later against Honduras.


What do you think about Klinsmann’s comments regarding Dempsey’s referee fiasco? Do you think Dempsey will be the USMNT captain during the Gold Cup? If he’s not, who will be?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So, perhaps MLS could tighten up on its rules to protect its forwards? Not just dempsey, but javier morales and all of the forwards in MLS. It might make the game better. Although, of course, that’s strictly matter of opinion.

  2. I remember when the NFL tightened up on their pass interference rule. The change was noticeable. And i would say consistently applied. And effective. Defenders literally could not touch pass receivers. I was i little surprised and impressed that the league did that. Gridiron football’s reputation for tough, physical play didn’t stop them from altering the game in favor of more beautiful, aerial offensive.

  3. “Going into a Gold Cup, especially in our region here, experience means a lot,” said Klinsmann. “You need players that stay calm in very emotional and very difficult and very tough battles. It can get nasty, things might not go your way in some moments, so you have to stay cool and you have to always be on top of things.”

    This was taken from JK’s explanation for taking such a veteran lineup. I admit Dempsey HAS to be on the team, but it is just another case of JK saying one thing and and doing another. This isn’t the first time CD has lost his cool on the field.

  4. Clint Dempsey just made himself irrelevant. As anyone who has refereed knows, referees are a bit of a fraternity. Although referees are supposed to be neutral and objective, they will relish the opportunity for payback for disrespect of a fellow referee (and that will be largely subconscious since virtually every referee I’ve worked with is too professional to have an overt agenda). Accordingly, Dempsey can expect calls that he might have gotten in the past to become no calls or to go against him as referees feel no inclination to give “that d-bag who disrespected a fellow referee” any kind of break at all. That’s just human nature. USSF compounded the problem by not giving him a lengthier suspension for referee assault.

      • Yes, and that is as it should be, but you’d be foolish not to acknowledge that the waiter who brings you your food has a certain degree of power over you. . .

    • In no way does this qualify as assault under any reasonable definition of the term. If he had pulled a kleenex from his pocket and torn it up, would that also qualify as assault? Under the language used by those who claim it to be assault, then you could apply assault to tearing up a kleenex. This is why those who adjudicate things use a reasonable standard when making determinations.

      • You clearly do not know the definition of “assault.”

        As a player, I had a referee snatch a cell phone from my hand. That constitutes assault as a matter of law. That referee never refereed in my league again.

  5. whatever, things happen. that wasn’t pretty but I’ve lost my cool before playing, come on, I don’t want my kids or players emulating that crap though, you know? that’s more the deal from my perspective because some kids I know playing soccer look up to him on the USMNT team

    • If you don’t want your kids or the kids on a team that you coach pulling that stuff, then teach them to not do it. It’s simple. Parents and coaches have WAY more influence over a kids behavior than grainy coverage of a crappy tournament that maybe thousands of people in a country of 300 Million care about.

  6. Henry Kissinger once said that college politics were the nastiest of all because the stakes are so small This is much ado about very little. It was an Open Cup game with just a few minutes to go and the Sounders were already down to what, 8 men. Dempsey’s actions had no effect on the game and he knew that, at least subconsciously. I’m not defending his actions, but when the games count, Dempsey rarely gets into trouble. In 6 years in the EPL he got 3 red cards. I cannot think of any red cards he has gotten in international play.. This is no more consequential than Jozy’s red card against Denmark (and how many have already forgotten about that one?).

    • 2010 opening minutes of US World Cup match Dempsey goes up for 50/50 ball and clears his opponent out with a deliberate elbow to the face. Clear red card but not called. That would have been a big deal.
      Dempsey has grown to combine hard nose balls out play with a bunch of petulance.
      His antics in Starlight(not so bright)Stadium showed no respect for the game that pays him a lot of money, no respect for referees, no respect for his team and ownership. Is antics were a big FU to the entire U.S. Cup scenario. That is what he brings to the field and that is a big deal!

      • Step away from the keyboard, take some deep breaths and calm down. How long have you been following soccer? Much worse stuff than this happens all the time in the game. Players elbows others practically every corner kick. Tab Ramos was put into the hospital by a Brazilian in the 1994 World Cup because of a vicious elbow. De Jong of Holland has broken several legs and ruined several careers. Now do you really think that tearing up a referee’s notebook is as bad as Suarez biting an opponent in the World Cup (his third time for that offense)? Or players beating up people in a bar, or an English player now about to go on trial for having sex with an underage girl? Or so many other things that hardly get noticed elsewhere? What Dempsey did was childish and petulant, but it hardly rises to the absurd levels you claim.

      • In fact it shows some creativity on Dempsey’s part. I would praise him for the creativity.. and the fact that he didn’t actually assault the ref.

  7. Name the caption?

    Klinsi: “it’s OK Clint baby, I’ll get you an ice cream cone on the way home. I know you just get so passionate sometimes and have your little meltdowns. It’s just a phase sweetie.”

  8. Getting a Red Card for being overtly aggressive in your play is one thing. Getting a Red Card for acting like a 9 year old brat is another. The referee is the authority on the field a Dempsey showed no respect, like a punk kid.

    • @Tim D. – I totally agree with you. I think that Bradley should retain the armband. We don’t want this type of behavior from a captain.

    • Respect is earned and not given simply because you have a referee jersey. Look at the totality of the circumstances…I read this referee gave out 65 yellows and 13 reds in 11 games. That’s absurd by any standard. I think Clint was making a statement, showing his frustration of having the game called by a ref who was trying to insert himself into the game. Wrong move nonetheless, but if he was acting truly like a “punk” like you said he would have punched the guy out. That’s what “punks” do. Clint isn’t a punk.

      He’ll knock in a few goals during gold cup and all will be forgotten, that’s how these things work.

      • Respect was earned by that referee when he suited up at 10 years old and has been working on getting to the MLS ever since. He’s worked to get to where he is just like Dempsey, so he deserves respect. Not giving it to him is spitting in the face of him and every referee that’s ever worked with him and he has passed up.

        He represents us and US Soccer, and he has earned your respect.

      • Dustin,

        Only I, father of the Turkmen get to ride on the respect I earned when I was born… father of the Turkmen people. My minions, and this referee, they must all earn their respect each day by their performance. Just because I promoted my 10 yr. old cousin to defense minister, doesn’t mean he has earned respect for anything he does. I will have him executed the moment he steps out of line. The same goes for referees!

      • Read about the Peter Principle. It’s probably in Wikipedia. Because someone has attained a certain level, it does not mean that he or she is competent at that level. In fact, it’s just as likely to be the opposite. I have seen people promoted because their superiors thought they didn’t have enough grounds to fire them, but they would do less damage in the higher position. You earn respect by doing your job well, not by the position you attain.

    • You think this will cause him to think twice when reacting? Have you watched Clint play?

      Clint will always play with aggression and a chip on his shoulder. Personally, I love it.

  9. I don’t think anybody who’s been watching Klinsmann at all would think that he would care…though I suspect his attitude would have been different if Deuce had pulled that in a USMNT shirt. And I suspect the “relaxed conversation” he’s planning on having with Deuce will be about two seconds long and go something like this: “Don’t pull that stuff while you’re wearing the US shirt, or I’ll cut you, capisc?

    But moralizing over stuff a guy did on the club level to make PC points has never been Klinsmann’s style. Has anybody EVER seen Klinsmann, at any time, do anything to make brownie points with the press or public? The man just plain does not care what people think of him.

    • quozzel

      Jermaine Jones manages to be nasty, psycho, intimidating and physical ( note sliding tackle on Neymar in Brazil game) without getting that many red cards, especially when it really matters. You can look it up. The Germany teams that JK played on always had more than a few guys like that.

      But they didn’t get red carded a lot. They got the OTHER guys wound up enough to get red cards. As a player JK would have been the guy who would bait Clint enough to get a red card for no good reason and hurt his team. I’m sure Clint knows this and JK will undoubtedly remind him of it.

      “But moralizing over stuff a guy did on the club level to make PC points has never been Klinsmann’s style. Has anybody EVER seen Klinsmann, at any time, do anything to make brownie points with the press or public? The man just plain does not care what people think of him.”

      As for caring what people think, there is an old saying that when a manager starts to listen to the fans , pretty soon he is sitting with the fans.

      • LOL about the coaches listening to fans, so very true. then again MB back to his more natural position, going with 2 strikers again and looking good right away…maybe sometimes it depends on which fans 😉

        on JJ, proved early on he understood what teams in CONCACAF were trying to do to him to bait him, and he never has bitten but instead has been very tactical in his fouls and yellows. I would say considering his physicality that his intelligence in fouling has been a great strength of his to date

      • JJ and Beckerman are the two most intelligent foulers in the USMNT pool.

        That is why Beckerman will be so important in the GC.

        It is always so amusing when people whine about Kyle aging and losing speed as if he ever had any to lose. He and JJ are simply the two best defenders on the team

  10. If I were Klinsmann I would have just said, “I told you guys I like some nastiness in my players. Your ‘disgraceful and immature’, is my ‘tough and nasty’ .” None of this PC stuff. C’mon Klinsy stop bs’ing us!

    • Whoa — Bruin — proper use of the subjunctive mood — “If I ‘were’ Klinsmann, not “If I was Klinsmann” — I am impressed.


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