PANAMA CITY, Panama – Clint Dempsey may not link up with his international teammates again until 2014, and that’s just fine with Jurgen Klinsmann.
Held out of the United States' final two Hexagonal matches to regain his form following a nagging hamstring injury, Dempsey could miss out on November friendlies as well, should the Seattle Sounders advance in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
And while some point to the prolonged absence of the squad’s captain as a potential problem come Brazil, the man who gave him that title is more than willing to wait.
“If it’s the case because of the playoffs in November, he can’t come in for those two friendlies, so be it,” Klinsmann told MLSsoccer.com here on Monday. “We are now in a comfortable situation. We are qualified. f we wouldn’t have been qualified, I would have brought him in here, but I said, ‘You’re not fit yet. Because of the injury, you have to catch up. Why don’t you get games now with Seattle and work your way back in until you feel comfortable?’”
Comfort has been hard to come by for Dempsey in Seattle after becoming Major League Soccer’s highest-paid player this summer.
A preseason cut short by the move Stateside helped bring on injuries which have curtailed his ability to contribute the moments of magic his new club and its fans expected. And results have been fleeting as the Sounders have gone from Supporters’ Shield favorites to simply scrapping for a place in the postseason in recent weeks.
After he left Sunday’s Cascadia Cup loss to the Timbers due to a shoulder injury, the pressure on the league’s newest leading man keeps ramping up – all of which comes with the territory of his transition from EPL squad player at Tottenham Hotspur to Sounders savior.
“He made this big move and becomes the player in MLS, the standout for our league domestically,” Klinsmann said. “The challenges that he faces are ice-cold water. They’re different because now they expect the world from him. They expect goals, they expect performances every game.
"You can’t have one bad game, which everyone has. For Clint, this is a different way of proving to everyone, especially himself, that he wants to take this on.”
“This” being a significant share of the mantle that his USMNT teammate Landon Donovan’s been carrying for the better part of a decade, a task that will hopefully raise all boats as the league continues to evolve.
“[Clint] wants to be one of the guys carrying the league forward, pushing it forward and inspiring the next generation, guiding the locker room in Seattle based on what he went through in the Premier League at two different clubs,” Klinsmann continued.
“He has to be now the guy, and that’s why I made him captain to tell younger players how to approach training, how to approach their daily lives. He has to tell a [DeAndre] Yedlin, who doesn’t have anything yet, how to get to an international level.”