DAVID SMITH - Sunday, August 28, 2016
Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey will miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers for the USA as he undergoes testing for a potential irregular heartbeat.
Seattle announced his absence for their weekend's league match on Sunday against Portland, and it was later confirmed to ESPN that his absence would also extend to the pair of qualifiers in the upcoming international break.
The team wrote on their website that he is due to undergo "medical evaluations for an irregular heartbeat," however gave no further details about what brought the issue to their attention, or the timeframe of the medical checks.
This will prevent the 130-times capped US National team player from participating in the team's final two games in the fourth stage of World Cup qualification, against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.
The team is widely expected to easily win the first game on September 2 in Kingstown and get a result four days later in Jacksonville, Florida, which would see them qualify for the final five-team "hexagonal" round of qualification to begin in November.
After questions arose before the summer about whether Dempsey should no longer be considered an automatic selection for Jürgen Klinsmann, the Texan put all doubters to rest with a standout performance in the Copa América, where he was the team's top scorer and arguably best player in their semifinal run.
His absence in these two critical games will be a blow to the team after a summer in which Dempsey, Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes looked to have developed a great chemistry as the preferred attacking front.
While erstwhile starter Jozy Altidore is once again healthy and rounding into strong form for his club team Toronto, he is by no means a like-for-like replace Dempsey, and his likely return to the the starting eleven will require Klinsmann to, at the bare minimum, tweak his tactical approach.