U.S. Men's National Team

Arena: March USMNT return not 'realistic' for Dempsey

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports

Clint Dempsey recently returned to Seattle Sounders training, but Bruce Arena says he doesn’t expect the forward to be a part of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s plans any time soon.

Speaking to ESPN, Arena says Dempsey likely won’t be a part of the USMNT squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers. Dempsey has been sidelined since August due to an irregular heartbeat, but the 33-year-old forward was recently cleared to return to training with the Seattle Sounders.

“I don’t think that would be realistic,” Arena told ESPN. “The most important thing is his health right now and, as you know, you take six or eight months away from the game, it takes awhile to get back. I’m just hopeful that when March rolls around, he can be part of Seattle’s plans in Major League Soccer. As he continues in the season, hopefully he can come back and be part of the national team.”

Dempsey returned to the field on Tuesday, participating in the Sounders first training session of the preseason. The club is planning on taking things slow with the forward, taking the cautious approach to his return to the field.

“We’ve been pleased with his progress,” Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey said on Tuesday. “His attitude has been awesome, he’s worked really hard. He’s now progressed to a point where he’s able to rejoin the team on a regular basis. We still have some steps to get through. We’re excited about what the future may hold.

“We’re going to see how this goes,” Lagerwey added. “I can’t be complimentary enough about how hard Clint has worked. It is not easy to take that kind of time off given his experience and bounce back right away. He’s been really positive and a really good influence in our locker room as well.”

  • Gary Page

    In his comments before and after the Serbian game and now here, it looks like Arena is doing a lot to try and lower expectations. In the LA Times for example, he said it wouldn’t have mattered if the US had won 5-0 or lost 5-0 and he liked the way they played. Now he says it’s unrealistic to expect Dempsey to play. Actually, I think it would have mattered if the US either won or lost big. A one goal win or loss wouldn’t matter. As for Dempsey, a more realistic reaction would have been to say that “we are happy to see him back in training, but aren’t counting on him in March.” It’s too soon to say what is realistic in regard to his fitness.This is not a criticism, but an observation. I think Arena is very cognizant of social media now and he is trying to keep us fans satisfied, if not happy by managing expectations. .


    • Old School

      I think Arena is very cognizant of social media now and he is trying to keep us fans satisfied, if not happy by managing expectations

      I’d like to think most fans care about wins and losses rather than social media or press releases, but considering Arena is replacing a man, that had the highest winning percentage of any USMNT manager for a healthy stretch, it’s evident our feelings matter more and whether or not we feel like we’re being told the “full truth”.

      Perhaps that’s why Arena is doing his best to massage our fragile emotional state and pound the MLS war drum instead of saying: “I’ve won more national team matches than anyone in history. Step back and let me do my magic.” by talking to the fans like the idiots are about the game instead of the geniuses we think we are about the game.


      • The Imperative Voice

        Let’s be real, do you think either Bruce or even Dempsey necessarily wants blunt and open clinical discussion of the specific pluses and minuses of playing someone with a heart condition? In comparison to say, the dual nationals thing, where someone gets called or doesn’t, and Bruce may or may not say why, someone with this kind of health condition is bound to be discussed in indirection and euphemism. You wouldn’t even necessarily in polite society want to talk about the risks. You wouldn’t want to be the one who said something could happen and he would just collapse….and then it happens….

        This issue is not where any BSing might happen. That would be more in the realm of “does Bradley keep starting,” “who plays CM,” “has he fixed the defense enough.” Those, we know we have issues, it’s debatable if they’re fixed, and he might send out self-serving stuff even if they’re not fixed. But Dempsey, be real, that’s a reasonable coaching decision when a player hasn’t seen the field in months and has a medical problem.


    • The Imperative Voice

      I think the comments may not be 100% accurate as a medical/sports evaluation of when he might be “able” to play and perhaps even well, but might be the correct choice for a team that has little error margin anymore. Heart is a serious thing and people with heart issues have had medical problems on the field. We have 3 subs per real game and you also have to consider the emotional impact if he had to leave a game.

      The comparison I’d make is to how I would have handled someone like Holden with his recurring knee injuries. I am not going to cap him right away, I am going to make him prove his health for his club. I am also going to give him his first try for my team in a more throwaway setting where if something happens and he has to walk off the field unwell, it’s not costing me subs and impacting morale in a huge game that counts.


    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US


      At the end of the day, he wins the WCup, he will be around longer than most.

      He doesn’t qualify, you can kiss his butt good bye. Making excuses for losses before the fact, isn’t going to help him.


  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    I can’t believe that people are even asking the question. He started working out for real a few days ago, and people WANT him to start for the Nat team in March?

    I know he is Deuce, but we can’t do better than that?


  • johnnyrazor

    Isn’t this what most of us thought when Bruce tried to float the idea of him playing in March a month ago?


  • Ronniet

    everyone needs to temper there expectations, the media included because they are the ones continuosly asking about Duece. There is a good chance CD may never play again, which would be sad, but is a reality and people need to prepare themselves for it if/when it comes. Let’s enjoy the players that are playing now and not about a player that is not in the teams plans at the moment.


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