Dec 22, 2012, 1:47 PM EST
There was a minor panic among United States Men’s National Team fans this morning when Clint Dempsey, the highest profile USMNT’er playing abroad, wasn’t in Tottenham Hotspur’s starting XI to face Stoke.
Not only was he not in the lineup, he wasn’t on the bench. What was going on?
Sure, Dempsey’d been struggling since moving over from Fulham, but particularly since being moved out left when André Villas-Boas went to a two forward formation, Dempsey seemed to be rounding into form. Perhaps his last couple of games could have been better, but the overall trend has been upward.
Yet there we were, early Saturday morning, willing to tolerate watching a Stoke match, only Dempsey was nowhere to be found. And since there was no hint in the buildup that Dempsey would miss today’s match, things were looking suspicious.
As it turns out, Dempsey picked up a slight groin injury, and with Gareth Bale returning from his own fitness concerns to man the left side, “Deuce” was scratched. Spurs went on to draw Stoke, 0-0.
The decision does present an issue for Dempsey going forward. If Villas-Boas is selecting his best team for a 4-4-2 formation, Dempsey’s not in it. Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe are up top. Bale and Aaron Lennon are going to play wide. Dempsey is likely relegated to the bench.
It’s not the worst place to be. With Dempsey’s versatility, he should still get plenty of starts. Villas-Boas clearly believes in his ability, so Dempsey could be the first choice to rotate in at any forward or wide midfield spot. In a pinch, he can even play central midfield.
It’s not going to be what Dempsey wants, and U.S. Men’s National Team fans will be only slightly behind in their disappointment. But if Dempsey is squeeze out by Bale’s return to health, he’ll still see plenty of playing time.
- Looking back on 2013: Talking through Real Salt Lake’s path to MLS Cup 1
- WATCH: PST Extra – Will Everton upset Arsenal? Can Man United bounce back vs. Newcastle? 0
- Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Sunderland and Everton to upset odds 4
- Kyle Martino chats Andre Villas-Boas drama and Premier League parity 0
- Mike Magee Wins 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player Award 6
- USA fear toughest ever World Cup draw but relish chance to make history 6
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Everything you need to know 4
- Premier League Playback: Moyes needs more, Suarez is Superman, Altidore (finally) off the mark 9
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (22)
- Sit down with Orlando City SC: Taking on Beckham, emulating the Timbers and Kaka in 2015 – Part I (21)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (20)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (17)
- World Cup Draw: United States in Pot Three (11)