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No big deal: Dempsey and Klinsmann downplay last-minute injury scratch

May 28, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

U.S. Men's National Soccer Team Training Getty Images

Those tuning in to the United States friendly against Azerbaijan were met with a bit of deadline drama, as there stood Chris Wondolowski in the Starting XI after Clint Dempsey was yanked from the lineup following some discomfort in his groin.

But it was all precautionary and after a day or two of rest, Dempsey plans on returning to full training ahead of a Sunday friendly with Turkey he won’t dare miss (especially after Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson both threatened goal, the latter scoring in the States’ 2-0 win).


“Yeah, I’ll be ready,” the 31-year-old attacker told on Tuesday night. “[It’s] just tightness. I was just feeling it a little bit [on Monday] and it was still tight again today, so it didn’t make sense to push it in the game.”

Klinsmann was aware that the Seattle attacker had experienced some pain in training during two weeks of intense competition, and was not surprised that Dempsey felt it again. After some discussion with the staff, it was decided discretion was the better part of valor.

“No it’s not serious at all,” Klinsmann said in the postgame press conference following the 2-0 win. “He had a little bit of pain yesterday already in training and he told me about it. And then in warm-up, he was just a little bit nervous about it.”

Klinsmann said he discussed the injury shortly before kickoff with USMNT head athletic trainer Ivan Pierra, who recommended they sit the Seattle Sounders star and give him “one or two days of rest” following nearly two weeks of pre-World Cup training camp at Stanford University.

“The players pretty much went on the edge and that’s what we have to do,” Klinsmann added. “We have to prepare them for something bigger.”

Wondolowski nearly scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the match and certainly provided both danger and physical play, but U.S. supporters would certainly have appreciated seeing the difference Dempsey might’ve made for Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.

The States return to the friendly pitch on Sunday at Red Bull Arena against Arda Turan and the Turkish national team. Kickoff is at 2pm ET.

[MORE: Diskerud, Johannsson come throughPlayer ratings | Three things]

  1. dubdiz12 - May 28, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    So is the friendly Sunday or Tuesday? I know when it is but apparently this guy doesn’t.

  2. dws110 - May 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Your second paragraph seems to imply that Clint Dempsey’s spot is somehow threatened by…Chris Wondolowski? Cancel the internet, I will not read a funnier article all day. Outstanding stuff!

  3. braxtonrob - May 28, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    I’m going to identify the elephant in the room now –

    At least 40% of longtime USMNT fans are actually rooting for an injury to someone (not necessarily Dempsey) on this 23-roster.
    Of the 7 players recently cut, I could throw a dart and hit one that I think deserves to be on the 23, almost every time.

    • bellerophon30 - May 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      Totally agree. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, be it a sprain or anything worse…….but it would be fascinating to see who would get picked to replace an injured player, especially given the bitter tinge of the reactions of most of the seven (all of whom stress that they support the players picked completely).

      And I think that the 40% estimation is a bit low (as long as one takes Michael Bradley out of the equation).

    • mknow406a - May 29, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      If you watched the USMNT team ‘documentary’ before the match last night (on a certain sports channel that does not start with “N”), you could see the “beep drill”. LD was in the group they showed. In his group (which included Omar G.and wasn’t loaded with speed demons) he was the slowest right off the start. In fact, it certainly looked like he didn’t even make it to the end line before hearing the first beep and turning around to run out the second leg. I don’t know JK personally, but I do know a couple of prominent German-born coaches in the NCAA… it doesn’t matter WHO you are, those German coaches that I do know would not tolerate ANYBODY dogging it like that… especially, somebody that is suppose to be a veteran leader… LD may have performed great in the scrimmages and skill games like he claimed in interviews, but if that drill was any indication of his effort in the rest of the ‘non-fun’ drills, it’s not hard to see why JK made the decision he did.

      • braxtonrob - May 29, 2014 at 2:00 AM

        This is the USMNT, not some NCAA (amateur) horse$%^. There are no school jackets or letters involved here, nor dates with cheerleaders after practice. When someone is discovered to have the ability to score goals in the WORLD CUP, you don’t evaluate them like it’s school tryouts.

        (I can’t believe this needed to be said, …. but there it is. Now, … if you disagree with the above sentiment, then maybe you should take up following professional badminton; I hear it’s very entertaining, on ESPN ‘the Ocho’ 8)

      • mknow406a - May 29, 2014 at 3:08 AM

        You got that exactly right, this IS not NCAA amateur BS. Nor is it MLS BS. Reality check, Bradley Wright-Phillips was playing in the THIRD division in England 2 seasons ago and now he’s leading the MLS in scoring… and the MLS today is WAY better than the first 8-10 season that LD was racking up his league record number of goals… And let’s keep LD’s WC goal scoring in perspective. How many goals did LD have in 2006? 0!!! Let’s look at 2002 and 2010’s production,,, 2002, 2 goals – 1 goal against Poland (a 2nd tier European team), which made up for the 1 goal he gave up because stopped playing and was crying to the officials when Poland countered for the first goal and a goal against Mexico a CONCACAF rival team, big deal. 2010, 3 goals.. 1 PK (again, big deal), 1 goal against Slovenia, another 2nd tier European team and 1 goal against Algeria, yet another global “power house.” In his 3 world cups, LD has played against Portugal, Italy, Germany, England, and Ghana twice… and has NEVER stepped up and score against a true top tier team in the WC (unlike Dempsey who has done it multiple times). My original comment was merely a reflection on the German mentality. Considering they have a few more World Cup trophies than the US, it just might be advantageous to take a page from their book. LD has coasted his entire career. His REPEATED failures to make it in Europe where he was not automatically given a free pass, but instead needed to compete day in and day out with players as good as him, showed more about his TRUE work ethic than many will admit. If somebody in the US or MLS had the guts to call him out on this earlier in his career, maybe he’d still be able to keep up with the younger guys and be relevant in t the USMNT today.

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