CARSON, Calif. – Clint Dempsey seemed uncertain about his US national team future when he met with media at an MLS roundtable earlier this week, noting that he was hopeful “it continues” but that it wasn't “always in your hands to decide that.”
The 32-year-old Seattle Sounders FC forward, who has scored 48 goals in 120 international appearances and featured in three World Cups, played in only one of the final six US matches last year – the CONCACAF Cup playoff loss to Mexico – and isn't part of the national team's current January camp.
He said he and Klinsmann regularly communicate by text, but in reference to his national team status, Dempsey noted that he's “in preseason with Seattle, and we'll see what the future holds. You have to ask him. He's the coach. I show up and play.”
Dempsey, formerly the US captain, dealt with injury issues late last year. Asked if he was concerned, especially given how Landon Donovan's international career closed, Dempsey was philosophical.
“I don't worry about it,” he said. “All you can focus on is your play, how you do during the year. If you're not playing well, you're not fit, you're not going to get the opportunity to get called in. I've enjoyed my time with the national team, had a good career. Hopefully, it continues. But I don't think it's always kind of 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.
“My job is just to always work hard, make sure I put myself in position to, whatever team calls upon me, that I can perform.”
Dempsey scored nine goals in 10 US games last year and had 12 goals and 10 assists in 23 league appearances with the Sounders, playoffs included, and says he was happy with his performances.
“Even though I had some injuries, I had good numbers last year,” he said.
Klinsmann on Friday said Dempsey “is absolutely part of our plans.”
“He always has been and continues to be, there's no doubt about it,” Klinsmann said following the national team's training session at StubHub Center.
The US coach said he let Dempsey skip some games late last year “to give me the chance to see the younger players coming through,” then allowed him to skip the January camp, which continues through the first week of February.
“We know Clint inside and out,” Klinsmann said. “He's a tremendous asset for the national team. ... Given the option, want to do the January camp or not, he said, 'No, that gives me maybe a chance to go smoothly into the preseason.' So this is cool. It's no problem at all.”
Dempsey said he'd love to play in this summer's Copa America Centenario “if I get the opportunity.”
“It's a tournament that I enjoyed watching, growing up as a kid ...,” he said. “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, make sure I put myself in position to be available for selection.”