Why isn’t Clint Dempsey playing for Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup Playoffs?

Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders - August 21, 2016

UPDATE: Dempsey attended Sounders training on Friday morning. But his status has not changed, and no official update is expected until the start of 2017 preseason activities.

If the Seattle Sounders are to win their first MLS Cup next month, they’ll have to do it without Clint Dempsey.

The US national team star was ruled out for the season on Sept. 27, just over one month after the Sounders learned that their star striker was experiencing an irregular heartbeat.

The news initially came down on Aug. 26, when Seattle revealed that Dempsey would miss the club’s match against the Portland Timbers that weekend while undergoing evaluations for his irregular heartbeat. The club were initially “cautiously optimistic” that their Designated Player would be able to return to the field in 2016, with the 33-year-old even returning to training on Sept. 14 and practicing for a week before being sidelined again on Sept. 20 to undergo further testing.

Seattle announced on Sept. 27 that Dempsey would miss the remainder of 2016, with club GM Garth Lagerwey saying in a statement that the Sounders “are not willing to put any pressure on this. His return to play is not important relative to his health, both short term and long term.”

As of now, there’s no set timeline for his return, though Lagerwey said when announcing that Dempsey would miss the remainder of the year that the Sounders are hopeful he’ll return in time for the start of preseason training camp in January. Former US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was fired on Monday, echoed those comments in a Facebook Q&A earlier this month, telling fans that “it looks promising that he’s going to come back, hopefully by the beginning of next year.”

While Dempsey can’t help his teammates on the field, he’s remained an active part of the Sounders playoff run. He’s been a regular at matches at CenturyLink Field and was in attendance at the home leg of the Sounders’ Western Conference Semifinal series against FC Dallas.

Dempsey’s also stayed plenty busy away from the field, granting a wish for a special Sounders fan, giving another supporter some birthday love and getting into character for Halloween.

There’s no word yet on if Dempsey will be in attendance for the opening leg of Seattle’s Western Conference Championship series against Colorado on Tuesday night (10 pm ET; FS1 in the US, TSN1/3 in Canada), but, barring any medical treatment that has him out of town, we’d be surprised if he wasn’t at CenturyLink for Leg 1 against the Rapids.