Dempsey eyes US goal record in Gold Cup final -- off bench or as a starter

Clint Dempsey will have a shot to move into sole possession of first-place on the US national team’s all-time scoring chart on Wednesday, but he doesn’t yet know if he’ll be starting the CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Jamaica (9:30 pm ET; FS1, Univision, UDN in the US | TSN 1/3/4/5 in Canada).

Dempsey started his first game at the Gold Cup, going the distance and registering an assist in the US’ 2-0 quarterfinal win against El Salvador last Wednesday. He came off the bench in Saturday's semifinal against Costa Rica, assisting on Jozy Altidore’s opener before tying Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT goals record in the 2-0 victory.

US head coach Bruce Arena cited the quick turnaround following Dempsey’s 90-minute performance against El Salvador as the reason why the 34-year-old came off the bench on Saturday. There will be fewer concerns about tired legs heading into Wednesday’s final after Dempsey’s 24-minute outing against Los Ticos, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Seattle star will start against Jamaica.  

“It’s whatever the coach decides,” Dempsey told reporters in Santa Clara, California on Monday. “He’s been really good with his selection and the players he’s picked to play in games, he’s been undefeated. So all I can go out there and do is make sure that I’m putting myself in the best position [that] if I do get called upon, I can go in and impact the game. The most important thing is the team winning, it’s not who plays, so hopefully we can go out there and win the Cup.”

While Dempsey is downplaying his role ahead of Wednesday’s match, he did admit that it’d be extra meaningful to break Donovan’s goal record in a tournament final.

“It’d be great, especially to do it in a final and try to help the team win a trophy would be awesome,” he said. “Hopefully that’s in the cards for me. We’ll see.”