Ahead of their Gold Cup quarterfinal match against Jamaica, the United States are under some serious pressure to get a win after their poor group stage performances. The general consensus is that stars Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will have to up their games. However, they have missed a couple of days of training for a perfectly understandable reason: Both of them had sisters who were getting married.
Apparently, this is a big story to some people, who think that Donovan and Dempsey aren't necessarily taking their next game seriously. I paraphrase Tony Dungy when I say that people need to put family above their profession. And I quote Allen Iverson directly when I say "We talkin' about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin' about practice."
The fact is, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are professionals. They have been the leaders of the United States national team for six-plus years at this point, and both have put in great performances after playing in a limited number of club games and/or practices. If this were Alejandro Bedoya or Tim Ream, we could have a problem. As a USMNT fan, I'm not worried about Dempsey and Donovan.
And you know what? I don't care if they play poorly this weekend as a result of missed training time. They missed it for something that's considerably more important than soccer.
Donovan and Dempsey were given permission to attend the weddings before the tournament began and both will be flying into Washington, DC on Saturday night ahead of the Sunday afternoon match.