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MLS to Brazil: Is Clint Dempsey back to form after his Week 5 hat trick?

Clint Dempsey eased the nerves about his recent displays with a man-of-the-match display in Portland. More on Dempsey's heroics and the rest of the World Cup hopefuls in the Week 5 edition of MLS to Brazil.

Clint Dempsey scored a hat trick in Seattle's 4-4 draw at Portland on Saturday afternoon.

Steven Bisig / USA TODAY Sports

Form assumes paramount importance in a World Cup year. Just ask Jozy Altidore about the consternation surrounding his plight at Sunderland or Aron Jóhannsson about the praise showered upon him for his production at AZ. Every blip and variance fosters concern and introspection. Every achievement inspires adulation and relief.

The latter qualities certainly applied in the wake of Clint Dempsey’s hat trick in Seattle’s 4-4 draw at Portland on Saturday. Dempsey raised potential concerns about his World Cup impact with a merely acceptable start to his Sounders FC career last year and a modest loan spell at Fulham over the winter. The possible explanations for those missteps – the inevitable fitness concerns given his calendar shift, the natural dips and peaks of adjusting to a new team and league – received less scrutiny. Only the meager production (one goal in 12 combined appearances for Seattle in 2013) warranted headlines.

Dempsey eased a few of the lingering worries with his sharp display against the Timbers. He looked like the best version of himself: an audacious, marauding figure capable of slicing open opposing defenses with his persistence and his will. His haul on the day highlighted his impressive second-half display, tapped into his potential at this level and underscored his potential utility for his country in a couple months’ time.

The next few weeks offer Dempsey a chance to prime himself for the toil ahead in Brazil. He doesn’t need to match Michael Bradley’s pervasive impact on Toronto FC or score three goals per game to accomplish the feat. He must simply round himself into the proper form to help Seattle in domestic play and prepare for the rigors of international fare. Based on this evidence, he is both aware of his responsibility and eminently capable of fulfilling it.

UNITED STATES

Goalkeepers

Bill Hamid (D.C. United): omitted through injury (knee) in United’s 2-0 win against New England on Saturday – next match: v. New York on Saturday

Sean Johnson (Chicago): zero saves in the Fire’s 2-2 draw with Philadelphia on Saturday – next match: at Montréal on Saturday

Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake): omitted through injury (knee) for RSL’s 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Philadelphia on Saturday

Defenders

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler helped his side to yet another shutout in the 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake): omitted through injury (ankle) for RSL’s 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Philadelphia on Saturday

Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, one shot during Sporting's 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: v. Montréal on April 19

Brad Evans (Seattle): omitted through injury (calf) for Sounders FC's 4-4 draw at Portland on Saturday – next match: at FC Dallas on Saturday

Clarence Goodson (San Jose): idle – next match: v. Columbus on Sunday

Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): 90 minutes, two shots in the Galaxy’s 3-0 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday – next match: v. Vancouver on Saturday

Michael Parkhurst (Columbus): 90 minutes in the Crew’s 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: at San Jose on Sunday

DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle): 90 minutes, one shot, one yellow card in Sounders FC’s 4-4 draw at Portland on Saturday – next match: at San Jose on Sunday

Midfielders

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes, one shot, one shot on goal in RSL's 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Philadelphia on Saturday

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): 73 minutes, one GOAL in TFC’s 2-0 win at Columbus on Saturday – next match: v. Colorado on Saturday

Brad Davis (Houston): 45 minutes, one ASSIST in Houston’s 4-1 defeat to FC Dallas on Saturday – next match: at New England on Saturday

Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): 90 minutes, five shots, two ASSISTS in the Galaxy’s 3-0 victory over Chivas USA on Sunday – next match: v. Vancouver on Saturday

Maurice Edu (Philadelphia): 90 minutes, two shots, one shot on goal, one GOAL in the Union’s 2-2 draw at Chicago on Saturday – next match: v. Real Salt Lake on Saturday

Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, two shots, one shot on goal in Sporting's 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: v. Montréal on April 19

Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake): 55 minutes, one shot in RSL’s 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Philadelphia on Saturday

Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): 90 minutes, four shots, two shots on goal in Sporting’s 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday – next match: v. Montréal on April 19

Forwards

Clint Dempsey (Seattle): eight shots, five shots on goal, three GOALS and one Player of the Week nod in Sounders FC’s 4-4 draw at Portland on Saturday – next game: at FC Dallas on Saturday

Eddie Johnson (D.C. United): 87 minutes, two shots, one shot on goal in United’s 2-0 victory against Chicago on Saturday – next match: v. New York on Saturday

Mike Magee (Chicago): 90 minutes, five shots, three shots on goal, one GOAL, one ASSIST and one late penalty miss in the Fire's 2-2 draw with Philadelphia on Saturday – next match: at Montréal on Saturday

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose): idle – next match: v. Columbus on Sunday

AUSTRALIA

Tim Cahill (New York): omitted through injury (hamstring) for the Red Bulls' 2-2 draw at Montréal on Saturday – next match: at D.C. United on Saturday

BRAZIL

Toronto FC goalkeeper Júlio César kept a shutout in the Reds' 2-0 victory at Columbus on Saturday.

Trevor Ruszkowski / USA TODAY Sports

Júlio César (Toronto FC): 90 minutes, five saves in TFC’s 2-0 win at Columbus on Saturday – next match: v. Colorado on Saturday

COSTA RICA

Jairo Arrieta (Columbus): 16 minutes off the bench in the Crew’s 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: at San Jose on Sunday

Waylon Francis (Columbus): 90 minutes in the Crew’s 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: at San Jose on Sunday

Giancarlo González (Columbus): 90 minutes, two shots in the Crew’s 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC on Saturday – next match: at San Jose on Sunday

Roy Miller (New York): 45 minutes, one shot in the Red Bulls' 2-2 draw at Montréal on Saturday – next match: at D.C. United on Saturday

Álvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake): 90 minutes in RSL's 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday – next match: at Philadelphia on Saturday

Rodney Wallace (Portland): omitted through injury (knee surgery) for the Timbers' 4-4 draw with Seattle on Saturday – next match: v. Chivas USA on Saturday

ENGLAND

Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC): omitted through injury (hamstring) in TFC’s 2-0 victory at Columbus on Saturday – next match: v. Colorado on Saturday

HONDURAS

Victor Bernárdez (San Jose): idle – next match: v. Columbus on Sunday

Boniek Garcia (Houston): 90 minutes, two shots, one shot on goal in the Dynamo’s 4-1 defeat to FC Dallas on Saturday – next match: at New England on Saturday

Marvin Chávez (Colorado): unused substitute in the Rapids’ 2-1 victory at Vancouver on Saturday – next match: at Toronto FC on Saturday

Jerry Bengtson (New England): omitted from the squad for the Revolution’s 2-0 defeat at D.C. United on Saturday – next match: v. Houston on Saturday

Johnny Leverón (Vancouver): unused substitute in the Whitecaps' 2-1 defeat to Colorado on Saturday – next match: at LA Galaxy on Saturday

IRAN

Steven Beitashour (Vancouver): 89 minutes in the Whitecaps' 2-1 defeat to Colorado on Saturday – next match: at LA Galaxy on Saturday