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Clint Dempsey talks about playing on 9/11

Sep 11, 2012, 2:55 PM EDT

Clint Dempsey 2

Clint Dempsey is passionate about his soccer, almost to the point that he comes across as brooding. (Same with Michael Bradley, by the way, although the injured U.S. midfielder seems to be changing.)

It’s not that Dempsey is a bad sort or an uncaring sort – but that focused demeanor does leave the U.S. attacker open to interpretation as being slightly curt.

That burning passion does extend to other areas, even if the Texas-born man doesn’t talk much about it publicly. Dempsey did open up a little yesterday on the raw-nerve issue of playing on 9/11.

It’s surely something that will linger on a few minds tonight, down on the Crew Stadium grass and up in the stands – up until the opening whistle, at least.

What Dempsey said about it yesterday:

It’s something that’s special. It showed that our country has a lot of character and was able to bounce back from that type of situation. I think people draw strength from that. Us as players and us as a country, we always remember that and the impact it had on everybody’s life. Everybody remembers where they were on that day. You can use it as a positive, as motivation to stay strong and keep fighting. We’re excited about the challenge of Tuesday and I think everybody is prepared to do everything they can to try and get this win.”

By the way, would it be better to stage this one in New York, to play this game at Red Bull Arena, just across the river from Ground Zero site? A commenter wondered as much on this morning’s Daily Soccer Re-Set.

Perhaps, and it’s a reasonable thought.

But this is World Cup qualifying, and competitive matters take priority over slightly more resonating symbolism. I’m not saying that soccer and World Cups are more important than national security or lives tragically lost; of course it isn’t.

It’s just that this significant date can be honored sufficiently while paying attention to matters of the moment.

After all, Columbus, Ohio, is in the United States, too.

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