HANOVER, N.J. – The role for Clint Dempsey with the US national team might be in flux right now in a way it hasn't been for some time. The USMNT stalwart has excelled in recent appearances, both as a starter and coming off the bench.

It is a matter of depth and competition at the attacking positions, Dempsey says, something that is good for the national team as a whole.

“I just think we have more depth, more competition – that’s not to take away anything from the teams in the past. I just think right now, especially in the attacking positions, it is a tough team to break into,” Dempsey said following the team’s session at the New York Red Bulls training facility.

“It puts us in a good position moving forward.”

Dempsey has undoubtedly carried the national team for much of the past decade, the 34-year old making his international debut in 2005. During that span of 135 caps and 57 goals, Dempsey has been the consistent presence up top or out wide for the Americans, something that is now changing with additional attacking options coming into their own with the national team.

Toronto FC’sJozy Altidore and Bundesliga striker Bobby Wood have all made strong cases in recent qualifiers to be the go-to options up top for USMNT head coach Bruce Arena. Meanwhile, Dempsey can point to his hat trick in a qualifier against Honduras five months ago as well as 11 goals this season in MLS for the Seattle Sounders for his own personal claim to a starting spot after having to sit out the back half of last season due to a heart condition.

All of which means that Arena can rely on any multiple of formations up top for Friday night’s qualifier against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena (6:30 pm ET | ESPN, Univision, UDN) and then next week in Honduras.

“It’s good for the team, it makes the team better. Pushes everybody. Everybody has the same goal to try and qualify the World Cup,” Dempsey said. 

“It’s all about working hard, pushing each other, having that competition for spots and raising our level of play.”

Aside from the trio of Altidore, Wood and Dempsey, there's also Jordan Morris, a teammate of Dempsey with the Sounders who was also called into national team camp, and has shown flashes of being a special player in the final third. And even veteran Chris Wondolowski, who scored on Sunday in the San Jose Earthquakes' rout of the LA Galaxy, could be in the mix for minutes off the bench.

As for Morris, he has hit some rough patches this year. The 22-year old has three goals in 22 regular season appearances for the Sounders, a dip from the form he showed a year ago. On the other hand, he scored in the Gold Cup final in July to help the USMNT lift the regional title.

But his pace and hard runs are an important asset to the national team, his continued development important for national team depth moving forward. 

“What every player goes through, you go through your highs and your lows. Keep fighting and push through it," Dempsey said. “He’s a player that is doing well, has a bright future. He’s learning, playing another year and getting better.”