Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It has been nearly 11 years since the 9/11 tragedy, but the effects from the events that took place that day are still felt by many across the nation each and every year and the U.S. men's national team players are no exception.
The U.S. will play their first game on September 11 since prior to the infamous day in 2001, and they know that the World Cup qualifier against Jamaica will hold significant meaning for them and the pro-U.S.-crowd that is expected to sell out Columbus Crew Stadium on Tuesday night.
"It is special, because it showed that our country had a lot of character and was able to bounce back from that type of situation," said Clint Dempsey. "I think people go on strength on that and us as players and as a country we always remember that and it's impacted everyone's lives. Everybody remembers where they were on that day, so yeah, (we) use it as a positive, as motivation to stay strong and keep fighting and we're excited about the challenge on Tuesday and everybody is prepared to try and get this win."
The U.S. men's national team star recalls where he was on that fateful day. The then-teenage Dempsey was at Furman University when he noticed a group of people bunched up around a TV and when he joined them to see what was going on, he was in utter disbelief with what was transpiring.
"I just really couldn't believe what I was seeing and as the days followed you found out more about the situation," said Dempsey. "Obviously it's sad for the people, I mean everybody was affected but anytime you lose family members, I know what that's like, and it's a tough thing for people and all you can do is try to look at the positives, try to think everything happens for a reason, other than that, you'll go crazy. Like I said, us as a nation, we just strength upon each other and that's what we need to do in the game on Tuesday: we need to come together as a team and get the right result."
The U.S. needs three points against Jamaica in order to avoid a pressure-filled last two games in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, and Dempsey is once again likely to start against the Reggae Boyz despite having played in his first game at any level in three months in last Friday's 2-1 loss in Kingston.
"I feel better for the game," said Dempsey. "It actually helped me a lot, it gives me more confidence, it's always good to get back on the scoresheet, but also it's better level of fitness and be able to assess the speed of what it's like playing in a game. I've benefited a lot from that."
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was not asked about the implications of the Americans playing on Sept. 11, but he did touch on Crew Stadium, calling it the perfect venue for this upcoming qualifier because of the support and actualy homefield advantage the U.S. will get.
"That's why we chose Columbus, and that's why we chose for the Guatemala game, Kansas City," said Klinsmann. "We know where the crowds are that give total support to their team and we saw that yesterday in our training session, with 4,000 people coming out, there were a lot of kids, everyone was so happy to see these guys train. And that gives us a sense of there's going to be a big support for us, which is very helpful obviously and the players really, it's a kind of feeling here, that they can't wait to get out on the field."