U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said Wednesday that teammates’ criticism of Coach Juergen Klinsmann in a published report this week was “shameful” and “embarrassing.”
Two days before the Americans’ World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at DSG Park, Bradley took issue with anonymous comments made about Klinsmann and the German coach’s system.
“Any team in the world, not every guy is going to be happy. In every team in the world, there’s going to be guys who go back to their room and talk with their roommate about things that they wish were different, about things that they wish could be done in a different way. That’s normal. If that wasn’t going on, then something wouldn’t be right. But you cross the line when you take those thoughts and you take your disappointments outside of the team, outside of the inner circle. So for me, it doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help anything that we’re trying to do this week.
“When you play in a team you have a chance every day to give everything you have, and part of that means having the balls to say things to guys to their face and having the balls to say things in front of the team. In those ways, it’s really disappointing that now in a week as important as this, in a week where so much is on the line, that you’d have something like that happen.”
Earlier in an interview session, when asked if he was concerned about unity and chemistry, Bradley said: “Nope.”
He did say the players discussed the issue to clear the air.
“The challenge of every guy in our team right now is to step on the field on Friday night and to make sure that, for every American watching, there is no sign of anything that’s gone wrong this week. It’s our job to represent ourselves and represent our country in a way that makes everybody proud. We let ourselves down a little bit in that way, but the best part about sports is that when you step on the field, you have a chance to put everything right. And so our chance is on Friday night.”
Speaking about the challenges of the qualifying stage, he added:
“This hexagonal is a long road. There are so many twists and turns along the way. We’ve kept a good, strong mentality. Guys are committed, guys are focused, guys know what is at stake. But at the same time, there is a real desire to step back on the field, given the way things in Honduras went. From the first minute, we [have] to put a performance on the field that shows we are moving ourselves forward and we’ve learned and we are ready to play an important game and get three important points.”
Can it be done with possibly several new players on the field?
“We have to do that. That’s the challenge. When you look back, this team has always had to deal with injuries, suspensions. We have faith in every single guy. There is a commitment and a pride and a determination from every guy who puts on this shirt. It’s our job to make sure that on the biggest nights and most important of games, it shines through.”
Clint Dempsey, named captain in the absence of Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard, said he had not read the Sporting News story and suggested such issues are just a distraction to the larger goal.
“The thing that matters is qualifying for the World Cup, not these little, petty things,” he said.
Klinsmann was not available to comment and and won’t answer reporters’ questions again until Thursday afternoon.
*If the reported discontent in the U.S. team sounds familiar, it should. Read this 1998 story by former Post colleague Amy Shipley as the Americans prepared to exit the World Cup in France
*Bradley seemed the front-runner to wear the captain’s arm band Friday. Instead, it went to Dempsey. Bradley, though, spoke highly on his teammate.
“When you look at Clint, you see a guy who isn’t afraid of anything, doesn’t shy away from a challenge. So when you talk about wanting as many guys — as many men — on your team, guys with real character, he certainly is first on that list.”
*Costa Rica star forward Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake) reportedly hurt his left knee in training and is doubtful for the qualifier. Meantime, defender Johnny Acosta (Dorados, Mexican second division) was scratched from the roster because of visa issues and replaced by Kendall Watson of Perez Zeledon.
*TV reminder: Friday’s match will kick off at 10:11 p.m. ET (8:11 local) on ESPN and UniMas (formerly Telefutura). WatchESPN, which is available on computers, smart phones, tablets and Xbox, will also carry the game.
*Latest game-time weather forecast: Light snow is possible in the evening and the temperature will fall from the low-40s during the day into the 30s.
*With additional seating directly behind the north goal and new bleachers set up in the northwest and northeast corners on the concourse, capacity will approach 20,000.
*The USSF will announce Thursday that the U.S. squad will play Germany in a June 2 friendly at RFK Stadium. An early-afternoon kickoff is likely for two reasons: to provide prime-time viewing for German TV and to avoid overlap with the U.S. women’s friendly against Canada the same day in Toronto (4:30 ET on ESPNews).
On Thursday, the USSF will also announce the venues for the four remaining home qualifiers — June 11 vs. Panama, June 18 vs. Honduras, Sept. 10 vs. Mexico and Oct. 11 vs. Jamaica. Seattle, Salt Lake City, Columbus and Kansas City are the long-standing favorites.