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Clint Dempsey focusing on his play despite unknown USMNT standing

Clint Dempsey MOTM Cuba 07182015

Clint Dempsey would like to play in the Copa America Centenario this summer, but whether he gets that chance remains to be seen.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has looked a bit different in its two most recent camps, as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has opted to call in younger players while leaving some veterans at home with their clubs. Dempsey has revealed that he chose to skip the U.S.’s annual winter camp this month, but he was surprisingly omitted by Klinsmann during the U.S.’s first pair of World Cup qualifiers back in November.

Dempsey’s absence has led some observers to wonder whether he is being phased out of the U.S. picture by Klinsmann much in the same way that Carlos Bocanegra or Landon Donovan were in recent years. Dempsey is not concerning himself, however, with whether that is the case or not.

“I don’t worry about it,” said Dempsey. “All you can focus on is your play and how you do during the year. If you’re not playing well, if you’re not fit, then you’re not going to get an opportunity to get called in. I’ve enjoyed my time with the national team, I’ve had a good career, hopefully it continues, but I don’t think it’s always in your hands to decide that. Your play has to.

“If there’s more games, there’s more games. If there’s not, there’s not. It’s not my job to make those decisions. My job is just to always work hard and make sure I put myself in position to whatever team calls upon me that I can perform and I feel like I did that last year.”

Statistically, Dempsey did have a productive 2015. The 32-year-old forward played in 10 games with the U.S. and scored nine goals, most of which came in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Additionally, the American veteran contributed 10 goals and 10 assists for the Sounders in the MLS regular season.

Dempsey was slowed, however, by a number of injuries. They limited his ability to make an impact, and he struggled to find the back of the net in the fall with the same kind of regularity that he did earlier in the year.

For Dempsey, all that is in the past. His focus right now is on preparing for the upcoming MLS campaign, and getting off to a good start there could allow him to get back into the national team picture ahead of the Copa America Centenario in June.

“It would be cool if I get the opportunity,” said Dempsey. “It’s a tournament I enjoyed watching as a kid. When people asked me what club did I support growing up, I didn’t really watch a lot of club soccer. The only channels I was able to get in my house were like international games, so that’s kind of what I watched.

“Seeing World Cups, Copa America, I kind of gravitated towards kind of the latin style, South American style of the game. To be able to play in a major tournament like that would be awesome if it’s meant to be. All I can do is work hard and make sure I put myself in a position to be available.”

Whether Dempsey is there or not this summer, he sees real value in the Copa America Centenario. Not only will the U.S. be able to test itself against some stiff competition, but a strong finish would help the U.S. rebound from a disappointing 2015 in a big way.

“It’s on American soil so you’ve got to think it’s a great opportunity to do well, especially after not getting the results that we wanted in Gold Cup and also in the (Confederation’s Cup) playoff game,” said Dempsey. “It’s huge for the country to really kind of bounce back, and have the game be in good standing again here in the states.”


  1. Always been a Dempsey fan. I was never more pleasantly surprised to see his growth as a leader during the last world cup. He was maybe a bigger factor and played better in that great 2009 confed cup run, but his acceptance of the role asked of him in Brazil was really impressive.

    All that said, I can’t get away from the fact that the US team seemed to play better last year when Dempsey wasn’t on the field. Maybe it was his injuries, maybe it was that the other players simply had more chemistry with each other, I don’t know. There still isn’t a better finisher than him, so if he’s willing to come off the bench late if we’re chasing the game, you have to think that would be a great option to have.

    • Many people noticed how fluid the team played last year when Dempsey was out of the line-up. There were many theories and factors to why the team played differently…
      1) Most were Friendlies. They didn’t carry as much pressure so players played more freely and were willing to take more chances.
      2) Dempsey’s style of play is slower. He tends to hold up the play and takes extra touches instead of moving/shifting quickly.
      3) Playing Bradley in an advanced ACM role with Dempsey often caused too much confusion. Too often they were occupying the same space and making the same runs. Making both players less effective.

  2. 2016-17 I would like to see Dempsey off the bench. He doesn’t have 90 min game anymore but he still has the tactical awareness and clutch skill that say Zandes or Morris does not have later on in the game.

  3. Regarding Dempsey and found on another website:

    –While there is no spot for Feilhaber, Klinsmann said that the same isn’t true for Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey, and he confirmed that Dempsey was given the option of sitting out January camp.–

    “Clint is still in our plans,” said Klinsmann. “But it’s also our responsibility to think about future, to think down the road about what happens two-and-a-half years from now. How does the roster look like in 2018? What do we need to do in the short-term, and to get the results to satisfy everybody, and what do we need to do in the long run?

    “In order to prepare the long run we have to here and there tell the older guys, ‘You’ve got to step aside now. We’ve got to try these guys out.’ But it doesn’t mean that you are forgotten. No. There comes the moment when if the picture allows it the right way, Clint is back, and hopefully back scoring.”

    Translation: Clint is a team player and understands he’s not bigger than the team. So long as he prepares and performs, his window still isn’t shut.

  4. I’ll be surprised if Dempsey doesn’t play a fair amount this year in WC qualifiers and during the SA tournament. After that, however, not likely we will see him much more in a US jersey.

  5. As much as we’ve all enjoyed Dempsey’s USMNT career we have to accept that sooner or later it will come to an end. Dempsey, Jones, Beckerman, and even Howard are coming to the end of their international careers. Regardless of what we fans may personally think about the situation their last game in a US jersey could come at any time. One of the worst things a coach can do is hold onto players beyond their effectiveness.

    • While I agree with your statement, I don’t think you can say Dempsey has even hinted at being less effective, especially in comparison to other players in our pool. I mean, he lays his 2015 stats out for public review and they’re objectively solid.

      That said, I have no worry about Dempsey being left out to dry. I agree with Gary Page below.

      Dempsey has never swayed in his commitment to the NT, his most recent year for us was as good as we could ask for, and he’s a former captain, legend. . .to leave him out in the dust for players with better potential, at risk to our chances of WC qualifying and progresing in the Copa America?

      I highly doubt JK is that politically ignorant.

      I think Deuce has solid affirmations from Klinsmann that he will be a part of the CA and qualifying.

      • Just trying to point out to some of the fans that players like Dempsey (regardless of their past accomplishments) do have a shelf life and that the older they get the shorter it becomes. That said I still expect Dempsey, Jones, & Howard will still be a part of the competitions in 2016, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them no longer go 90 minutes, be used as subs, and even be given games/camps off. At their age the game takes a longer to recover. Each year after 2016 their involvement will likely be reduced more and more.
        A lot will depend on if the U-23s qualify for the Olympics and how the less experienced players perform. As Nagbe, Williams, Morales, Morris, Zardes improve and others hopefully return from injury (Johannsson, Gyau, etc…) the older guard will be pushed out. It happens everywhere unless a coach becomes too focused on their past performances/accomplishments.

      • I’ll look back fondly on both of those moments, and many more, when it comes time for him to walk away. I love Dempsey for all his on-field expressions, even if I thought some were boneheaded.

        As far as tearing up the ref’s book goes–although I’m sure we ran this debate into the ground already–that game was essentially over after the ref made that horrible call. I think Dempsey knew that, and was being fairly calculated in highlighting the poverty of MLS officiating with overly dramatic statement.

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