92816_isi_dempseyclint_010160616rdl_cf_usa_ecu_dempsey David Leah/isiphotos.com
Player Spotlight

Yanks Have Options, But Dempsey Will Be Missed

Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Aron Johannsson and Jordan Morris will try to fill the shoes of U.S. icon Clint Dempsey, who will miss the rest of the MLS season with a heart ailment—and some World Cup qualifiers too.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 28, 2016
4:00 PM

ON TUESDAY the Seattle Sounders announced that Clint Dempsey would miss the remainder of the 2016 season due to an irregular heartbeat. Specific details were not made available about the U.S international’s precise condition or whether his career was in jeopardy.

Dempsey, 33, last played on August 21 when he scored two goals for the Sounders in a 3-1 win over archrival Portland Timbers. Once the news of the irregular heartbeat was announced days later, Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to leave him off of the U.S. national team for a the final pair of World Cup qualifiers in the preliminary round.

The news is a major setback for both Seattle and the U.S. national team. Seattle is making a late push for the playoffs and is riding strong play from rookie forward Jordan Morris to remain in contention. Without Dempsey, reaching the postseason will become much more difficult.

Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey said he hoped Dempsey could be treated successfully, adding that he was “cautiously optimistic” Dempsey would return next year.

For Klinsmann's team, Dempsey showed little sign of aging this past summer at the Copa America, scoring three goals—all in wins—against Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Ecuador. Now the Texan will be out at least through the start of the Hexagonal round of qualifying which will start in November with a home game against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, and an away against Costa Rica in San Jose.

Klinsmann has options. Jozy Altidore recently returned from injury, providing a boost ahead of two tough qualifiers. Staying healthy has been a huge problem for Altidore who has not been fully fit for many of the most recent major tournaments including the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Gold Cup, and the 2016 Copa America. If the Toronto FC mainstay can stay fit, the U.S. team should be strong.

Bobby Wood will also have to remain a force for the U.S. up top, likely in a partnership with Altidore. Wood has enjoyed a breakout 2016, taking on an expanded role with the national team and moving to the Bundesliga with Hamburg.

While Wood and Altidore remain the most likely candidates to be the forward combination against Mexico in November, Klinsmann has a wide range of options to consider. Morris has been with the national team dating back to 2014 and is now playing the best soccer of his career with the Sounders. Also, Aron Johannsson has recently returned from injury at Werder Bremen where he has shown some quality moments for his Bundesliga club.

Having said all of that, the Dempsey news is a major disappointment for U.S. fans and for the player himself.

From 2007 through 2013, Dempsey was the soccer face of America in Europe and he established himself as one of the most successful Americans to ever play in the Premier League. Dempsey tallied 50 times for Fulham and then added another seven strikes during his time with Tottenham. For the national team, Dempsey has registered 52 goals in 130 games, including goals at the 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups. In Major League Soccer he has scored 59 times—25 for the New England Revolution to start his career and another 34 since rejoining the league in 2013. 

Hopefully we will all get to see Deuce strut his stuff again in 2017.

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