Photo by ISIphotos.com
Preparations for two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica continue for the U.S. men's national team, and according to U.S. Soccer, all 23 players had arrived in Miami (Nick Rimando will replace Sean Johnson in camp after the first match) ahead of Tuesday's training session. One of those players is Clint Dempsey, whose fitness and role in the upcoming matches will continue to be topics of scrutiny and discussion for the coming days.
Fresh off his transfer deadline move to Tottenham — one of Jurgen Klinsmann's former teams — and being given the No. 2 jersey with the London club, Dempsey has joined his international teammates on the training field, getting back to work after a tenuous and unstable preseason period with Fulham.
“It was good to get back into the team, with the guys, and good for me to get back into training," Dempsey told U.S. Soccer's official website on Tuesday. "I’ve been training with a trainer, but it’s good for me to get back in playing with teammates.
"Everybody is excited and looking forward to continuing this run of doing things that are special – the first time winning in Italy, first time winning against Mexico and if we beat Jamaica it will be the first time there doing that. We’re just trying to keep doing things that are special and try to qualify for the World Cup, because that’s the main goal.”
For Dempsey, being out of fitness ahead of recent U.S. matches is not all that new. He was held out of the U.S. friendly against Scotland in May and was brought on as a second-half substitute against Brazil as he built back his fitness following an injury layoff at the end of Fulham's season. He then went on to play 90 minutes in a friendly against Canada and two qualifiers in which he scored against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala on June 8 and 12 — the last competitive matches in which he has played.
Klinsmann said on Sunday that he would take the ensuing days to assess the fitness and progress of Dempsey, who scored the last time the U.S. played Jamaica back in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and that he had no problems "throwing him in the water right away" if he checked out. With Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley unavailable due to injury, it would be a substantial lift for the U.S. if Dempsey were to be able to go beginning with Friday's match in Kingston.
What are your expectations from Dempsey in these two matches? Do you realistically think he can step in for the U.S. and have an impact after not playing a competitive match for almost three months? Do you think the U.S. can find success without him, Donovan and Bradley?
Share your thoughts below.