UPDATE: In case there was any question about Dempsey's standing within the team, Klinsmann reiterated that the Seattle Sounders forward has not abdicated his captaincy and will be included in the roster for the upcoming qualifiers.
Turns out, Jurgen Klinsmann might not be quite as pleased as he first let on with Clint Dempsey's decision to forgo a chance at Champions League in order to return to MLS. Speaking to a reporter (in this case Graham Ruthven of American Soccer Now) instead of USSoccer.com, the United States manager was a bit more frank about his feelings.
Specifically, he was asked if his attitude had changed from last year when he famously told Dempsey that the player "hasn't made shit" until he succeeded on the biggest stage. Most seem to think that was one of the driving forces behind Dempsey forcing his move from Fulham to Tottenham. Anyway, Klinsmann wasn't backing off that statement.
"I've not changed my mind, no," the coach said. "I'm always there to push them to the next level. That won't change.
"In Clint's case there are different views on his move. On one hand it's fantastic for MLS to have him back in America. He'll inspire kids to play soccer. The challenge for him is to keep up his standard. He has to maintain the level he's set for himself over the past two years and I'll be there pushing him to do that. We won't let his game slip.
"We always take personal circumstances into consideration, and with Clint and Landon that's a factor. But I'll always challenge my players to push for the next level and that means playing in the big European leagues."
No, Klinsmann isn't exactly bashing Dempsey's move, but you don't have to read too far between the lines that he wouldn't have recommended the move if he'd been asked. Of course, Dempsey didn't ask Klinsmann and he shouldn't feel as though he had to. Dempsey obviously felt this was a good time to return to MLS and there's every reason to believe that he'll remain sharp while he's here.
One of the ongoing themes of his media tour yesterday was that Dempsey rejects the idea that playing in Europe is automatically better for a player than being in MLS. He pointed out that plenty of teams don't play "good soccer", that taking the winter off may actually be good for him and playing meaningful minutes is probably better than fighting for playing time.
This probably has little to no effect on Dempsey's standing within the U.S. national team, either, but if you were really curious of Klinsmann liked the move, this is probably your answer.