One of the lingering questions over Clint Dempsey's decision to return to MLS was how United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann felt about the decision. About a year earlier, Klinsmann had challenged Dempsey to get out of his comfort zone and make a bid for Champions League.
Regardless of how he might have felt several months ago, Klinsmann is at least satisfied with Dempsey going on loan to Fulham.
"He had a very difficult couple of months because of injury and the transition back into MLS," Klinsmann told USsoccer.com during a wide-ranging Q&A. "I think it's a great decision from Clint to start off the year in the right way going on loan for two months to Fulham, his old team. They need him to get them back up in the table of the league, and he will come already in good shape back into MLS."
Klinsmann acknowledged that Dempsey's return to MLS wasn't very smooth. The U.S. captain battled injuries and never got into any kind of groove, scoring just one goal and registering only a single assist in 13 appearances.
Klinsmann seemed confident those struggles were the result of not having any real preseason and has high expectations going into 2014.
"Hopefully now he gets games with Fulham and then he comes in completely different shape back to MLS and continues that path towards the World Cup," Klinsmann said. "It was very difficult for him, that transition. But it's over; it's way back. He plans it out now the right way and we are thrilled that he's with Fulham. By the middle of May when the season stops in Europe and we get into camp for the World Cup, I think he's going to be in tremendous shape."