Striker Clint Dempsey has been out since August due to an irregular heartbeat, but it’s no secret that coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. national team would love to have their star striker back.
Dempsey will not return until 2017 at the earliest, and there’s no firm timeline and there have been few updates about his status. But in a Facebook Q&A with fans on Saturday, Klinsmann addressed Dempsey’s absence, saying he expected the striker to return soon.
"As far as I know – I, here and there, shoot text messages back and forth with Clint – he’s doing great," Klinsmann said. "It looks really good, it looks promising that he’s going to come back, hopefully by the beginning of next year."
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"We are always with Clint and we always are in our thoughts with him," Klinsmann added. "And we are sure that we are going to see him early next year again."
It should be noted that Klinsmann had been optimistic Dempsey would return this year until it was announced that Dempsey would be out for the rest of 2016. A month after he was sidelined for the heart condition, Dempsey returned to training for about two weeks in September before making the decision to miss all of 2016. Not much has been released about the nature of Dempsey’s heart condition, but it appears the Seattle Sounders forward is taking a cautious approach, and rightfully so.
If Dempsey does return next year with a clean bill of health, it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the U.S. national team. He’s been an incredibly valuable player, including right up to the point he was sidelined this summer. But Dempsey will be 34 next spring and getting back to match sharpness after such a long break could be a challenge.
There’s no question a lot of U.S. Soccer fans would love to see Dempsey back in the mix regardless, but the father and husband needs to do what is best for his himself. As players on the Sounders and for the USMNT have made clear, his health comes first.