Dempsey feeling back to old self

BY foxsports • April 2, 2010

Dempsey started consecutive games for the first time since missing nearly two months with a knee injury, playing the full match as Fulham beat German champion Wolfsburg 2-1 Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals.

Dempsey didn't score but had a few threatening chances in the first half, testing Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio on a couple occasions.

"I put in a good 90 minutes tonight," Dempsey said. "I'll be curious to see how much I ran tonight. I felt good, felt sharp. I thought I put in a good performance. Scoring a goal would've been icing on the cake."

The 27-year-old midfielder from Nacadoches, Texas, had a good chance late in the first half but hooked a shot wide.

He injured his right knee playing against Blackburn on Jan. 17, then returned as a substitute March 11 against Juventus. One week later, Dempsey scored on a 82nd-minute flick to beat Juve and put the Cottagers in the quarterfinals of a European tournament for the first time.

Dempsey has made three starts and four substitute appearances since coming back. He was back to his familiar role Thursday - on the left wing.

"It's the most comfortable I've felt because that's my most natural position on this team," Dempsey said. "I like running at people as opposed to my back to goal."

Dempsey has eight goals this season and believes his time off was beneficial.

"It gave me the chance to step back from the game, think about things I can improve on and hit the gym a little bit," he said. "It was a good experience for me to take a step back and get more hungry to play."

Because of injuries sustained by Sochaux's Charlie Davies in a car crash, some think Dempsey could be paired at forward with Hull's Jozy Altidore when the U.S. opens the World Cup against England on June 12. Dempsey isn't thinking that far ahead.

"I'm just worrying about the season right now. That'll worry about itself when we get closer to it," Dempsey said. "You can't really worry about the other team too much, you've got to worry about your own."

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