We've all talked about who should be Captain, and I alluded to earlier we all assume a decision is forthcoming at some point in camp. But, what do the players think? I managed to talk to several of the guys that we would perceive to be "leaders," and they had some interesting things to say. I was left with one rhetorical question in my mind:
Does this club really *need* to name a Captain?
"It's kind of an interesting dynamic with no Captain," Mark Letestu told me. "There's no one guy to look to. I think that's caused a lot of different guys to take on leadership roles. A lot of different guys take ownership of the team. I think that showed in a lot of the guys' play. We're not looking for one guy to make decisions. It's the sum of the parts; everybody has their input. It's a real democracy, I guess, outside the coach. It doesn't really bother anyone in there. We're not sitting around waiting for a Captain. We know who our leaders are, and I'm sure a Captain will be chosen from those people."
Much like Letestu, many of the players I talked to hinted that they expect a Captain to be named, but also stressed that the team will continue to function as it did last year with leadership from a larger group of players instead of just one voice.
"No," said R.J. Umberger when I asked him if the club needed to name a Captain. "You can say we need to get one eventually. I think as long as we have a group that's leading the right direction, you don't want to pick somebody just to pick somebody. I think someone has to be the clear-cut Captain. You have to look and say, 'There's no doubt that's the Captain of our team.' ... [We have guys] who are great in the locker room and pick each other up. I don't have this sense that there are one or two guys who are the leaders. I think there's a whole group of leaders on this team and I think that's unique."
The more players I talked to about it, the more I seemed to get the impression that they don't look at it as a necessary decision right away. They don't feel like it will change anything about their dressing room, or about how they handle themselves.
Any Captaincy discussions have to involve Jack Johnson, who in addition to being a big voice in the new leadership group also has experience being the Captain of the United States team in international competitions. Johnson was deferential to the coaches about naming a Captain, but also made sure to point out that this group isn't going to be in limbo without an official Captain.
"We function as a group just fine," Johnson said. "I think at some point something needs to be done. [The coaching staff knows] that, and at some point it will be done. That's a question that's entirely up to them. The biggest thing I learned [being a Captain of the US National Team] is that you don't change who you are. Whoever is named Captain will be named Captain not for who they hope they are, but for who they are."
The more you talk to the guys in the leadership group, the more you get the sense that they almost like it the way it is now and aren't even really pushing for a Captain to be named. It makes one wonder...