Clint Dempsey's absence from Wednesday's starting lineup came as a bit of a surprise. Perhaps it should not have. The Seattle Sounders' leading scorer has logged more than 2,600 minutes for club and country in 2014 and it is starting to show.
"I'm feeling tired," Dempsey said after the tie with the San Jose Earthquakes. "I've been going non-stop since December, really. So that's why I was rested today, just trying to get my legs back under me and try to feel a little bit energized. Hopefully we can figure out a way to manage that and get back to feeling good again."
Did Dempsey's 20-minute reserve performance do the trick?
"It's rest," he said. "Ninety minutes takes a lot out of you. Games on turf take a lot out of you. Games, period, take a lot out of you, but especially on turf. Just trying to manage that load so I can be fresh, get my legs back and have a strong run to the end of the season."
Dempsey's year got off to a busy start, as he chose to go on loan to Fulham during the MLS offseason. He appeared in seven matches and played about 565 minutes. He rejoined the Sounders just ahead of their MLS season opener and after making his debut off the bench, basically played every minute he was available until heading off to United States national team duty in Mid-May. Dempsey's time with the national team included four World Cup matches and four more friendlies in which he played about 725 minutes.
After about a week off, Dempsey was back with the Sounders and has now logged about 1,300 minutes, including the MLS All-Star Game and Tottenham friendly.
Especially after watching the way Obafemi Martins broke down toward the end of last season, the Sounders are clearly hoping to avoid something similar from happening with Dempsey.
"Dempsey has been going all year," head coach Sigi Schmid said. "We need to find him little breaks here and there or else we're going to burn him out completely."