Clint Dempsey was originally in the USMNT's starting lineup against Azerbaijan.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
STANFORD, California (AP) — U.S. captain Clint Dempsey’s sore left groin has improved, and coach Jurgen Klinsmann plans to start him in the Americans’ second World Cup warmup this weekend against Turkey.
The 23 players geared up for their final workout at Stanford on Thursday, a quick session in the pool, before leaving the Bay Area to fly east. Klinsmann said Dempsey was still slightly limited in his movements by design during Wednesday’s training, avoiding any sideways cuts or runs to avoid re-aggravating the groin. But the coach said Dempsey ”definitely” will start Sunday at Red Bull Arena,
”A lot of work yesterday. We kind of made sure he’s not going sideways. That was kind of bothering him and worrying him a little bit,” Klinsmann said. ”He’s all good. Today they have an easy regen day, travel day. So by tomorrow full speed in training. Everything is good.”
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Dempsey was a late scratch before kickoff of Tuesday night’s 2-0 exhibition victory against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park. The conditions were challenging, too, with strong winds throughout the match. He had been set to start up top with Jozy Altidore in a 4-4-2 formation.
”If something gets worse now the first 30 minutes or whatever, then you know what, there’s no reason why we should risk now anything,” Klinsmann said. ”It was not really risk, but it was a lot of work they put in here the last 2 1/2 weeks, so we just decided there on the field, c’mon, it’s good (OK to sit him). But he’s ready to go.”
One week after Klinsmann announced his roster – one without American career scoring leader Landon Donovan – the Americans were set to travel east Thursday for their weekend exhibition in Harrison, New Jersey. They face Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 7, then head to Brazil the following day for their seventh straight World Cup appearance and first-round matches against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
”I feel it’s really going to sink in when we get down to Brazil,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. It still almost hasn’t totally sunk in that this is the team. But it’s getting closer.”
The U.S. opener is June 16 against Ghana – which has eliminated the U.S. the past two World Cups.
”It’s been amazing, it really has,” Beckerman said. ”It’s been everything you could possibly want or need for a World Cup preparation. It’s been perfect weather, Stanford laid out the red carpet and let us use every part of their facility with their students, which was fun to interact with them. All in all, it’s been great.”
Klinsmann is thrilled with the choice to hold his training camp on Stanford’s campus. He said he will miss the environment and California sunshine.
”Totally,” Klinsmann said. ”This is an amazing experience. Ask the players. For me as a coach, I think I’ve never had a better setup than this. I understand European teams coming over here, like Juventus here during preseason, two training fields, the locker room they kind of decorated for us. Going to eat lunch with the students, it’s all top quality. The climate in California, you can’t beat. It’s been terrific, top, top so far.”