Seattle Sounders say Clint Dempsey's "health is No. 1" after medical issue

TUKWILA, Wash. – When the Seattle Sounders take the field for their Cascadia Cup road clash with the Portland Timbers on Sunday (5 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada), they’ll do so without the services of one of their best players.

Seattle announced on Friday via a press release that star forward and US national team veteran Clint Dempsey has officially been ruled out of the contest, as he undergoes a medical evaluation for an irregular heartbeat.

Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed Dempsey’s status while speaking with reporters following Seattle’s training session on Friday at Starfire Soccer Complex, saying that the club will know more about the extent of the condition once the medical evaluation is completed.

“It’s something that we’ve been monitoring during the season and we’ve now got to take the next step in the medical process and we’re going to work with that,” Lagerwey said. “We have Clint’s best interest at heart first and foremost.

“He’s been calm in our conversations with him. Obviously anytime someone tells you something about your body, that’s an issue of some concern. But he’s real mature and professional about this, as always. Again, everybody here between us, US Soccer and Clint, we’re all on the same page as to getting to the bottom of this, figuring out what’s going on and doing what’s best for Clint.”

Sunday will mark the second consecutive road matchup with the Timbers that Dempsey will miss after he was held out of the first meeting of the season between the sides on July 17 because of a red-card suspension.

At the moment, however, Lagerwey says any concern over the on-field impact of Dempsey’s loss has taken a backseat to his personal health.

“Health for all of us, irrespective of sports, is what’s most important to you,” Lagerwey said. “Certainly that’s the case in any business; you hope that they care about the people first and foremost. Clint’s given a great service to this club and we owe him an equal measure of respect and support as we go through this medical evaluation.”

Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer also addressed the situation on Friday after speaking to Dempsey over the phone on Thursday, a conversation Schmetzer described as “upbeat and positive.”

“All our thoughts go out to him and his health. He’s got a family so his health is No. 1, “ Schmetzer said. “He wants the team to do well on Sunday. From there, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know the rest of the timeline. I’m focused on Sunday and then we’ll have a little break to get our arms around things and figure out exactly what’s going on.”