If there were any doubts that Clint Dempsey’s scratch from Tuesday’s starting lineup was anything but a precaution, Jurgen Klinsmann did all he could to assuage those fears on Thursday. Speaking to media at national team camp in Palo Alto, Calif., the U.S. men’s national team head coach said his captain would “definitely” start Sunday against Turkey at Red Bull Arena.
Dempsey was originally scheduled to start Tuesday’s match against Azerbaijan before a groin injury suffered in pre-match warmups led to his exclusion. On Wednesday, Dempsey trained but avoided activity that could re-aggravate the injury. By Friday, however, the U.S. captain is expected to resume full training.
From reporting by ESPNFC.com:
Klinsmann says Dempsey did “a lot of work” on Wednesday but the forward refrained from any sideways cuts or runs during the training to avoid re-aggravating the groin. Dempsey felt no ill effects in moving straight ahead.
Given that the team is scheduled to fly to New York later on Thursday, Klinsmann is convinced that Dempsey will be able to play on Sunday.
“He’s all good. Today they have an easy regeneration day, a travel day; by [Friday], full speed in training,” he said.
So breathe easy, U.S. men’s national team fans, though given how this story has developed, it’s unlikely many supporters were holding their breaths about an injury that never seemed serious. Dempsey’s status for Brazil has never been in doubt.
Perhaps a more interesting question will be who starts along side “Deuce” in New Jersey. Jozy Altidore is the first choice number nine and Dempsey’s seemingly designated partner, but if Klinsmann wants to make changes from the team that started in San Francisco, AZ Alkmaar striker Aron Johannsson, the second scorer in Tuesday’s 2-0 win, could partner Dempsey up top, with Altidore and Chris Wondolowski having gotten the call against Azerbaijan.