United States v Guatemala: Klinsmann backs Dempsey ahead of Gold Cup warm-up
Jurgen Klinsmann has no concerns over Clint Dempsey's temperament as United States face off against Guatemala in their final match before starting their defence of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Dempsey was handed a minimum two-year ban from the U.S. Open Cup after being sent off for tearing up the referee's notebook in Seattle Sounders' 3-1 extra-time defeat to Portland Timbers last month.
Head coach Klinsmann subsequently opted to make Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley captain for the Gold Cup, but the German insists that taking the armband away from Dempsey does not diminish the 32-year-old's importance to the team.
"I had a very, very good conversation with Clint about what happened during the Open Cup, but also about how we want to approach things," Klinsmann told United States' official website.
"For the time being we thought it's the best thing to give the captaincy to Michael Bradley and let Clint focus on what he's all about. Clint is about scoring goals. We need Clint Dempsey badly with the national team.
"What happened was a mistake, but it was the first red card in his career and a lot of people went at him. I think the best thing for everyone right now is to let him concentrate really on playing and doing what he does best."
USA also played Guatemala before the 2013 Gold Cup and Klinsmann will hope for a repeat performance from that 6-0 victory when the teams meet in Nashville on Friday.
Klinsmann is planning to utilise the full depth of his squad for the fixture as they finish preparations for a Group A campaign that sees them go up against Honduras, Haiti and Panama - who they beat in the 2013 final.
"In the friendly with Guatemala we have the chance to use six subs," he added. "We will use all six subs most likely to give the players minutes and give them a chance to show us what they have."
Guatemala missed out on the Gold Cup in 2013, but return this time around after Argentine head coach Ivan Franco Sopegno oversaw a run to the final of the Copa Centroamericana last year.
The fixture against USA will provide the perfect warm-up for a Group C that includes a difficult match against Mexico, but winnable encounters against Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago.