Clint Dempsey to miss rest of 2016 season due to irregular heartbeat

Should the Seattle Sounders make a late charge into the playoffs and vie for MLS Cup, they’ll do so without one of their top players.

On Tuesday, Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey announced that star forward Clint Dempsey will miss the remainder of the regular season and playoffs as he continues to deal with an irregular heartbeat discovered last month.

Dempsey’s medical issues were first announced in late August and he was immediately held out of action as he underwent evaluation.

The US national team stalwart returned to Sounders training on Sept. 14 with Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey remarking at the time that the team was “cautiously optimistic” that Dempsey would be able to return at some point this year.

Without Dempsey, the Sounders are 2-1-2 in their last five games. Led by rookie Jordan Morris, they’ve reeled off two straight wins to get back into the playoff hunt, including a massive 4-2 win over the LA Galaxy this past weekend.

The seventh-place Sounders, who are nipping at rival Portland’s heels for the final playoff spot in the West, return to action Wednesday night vs. the Chicago Fire at CenturyLink Field (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

Dempsey’s 2016 season will end with eight goals in 1,429 minutes. He has 34 MLS goals in 72 games since arriving in Seattle halfway through the 2013 season.

There will be a trickle-on effect at the international level as well, with Dempsey almost certainly unavailable for US national team friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand in October and likely out of Hexagonal matches against Mexico and Costa Rica in November.