There is still no timeline for when Clint Dempsey will be able to return to regular game action, but he has been cleared to train as the Seattle Sounders formally opened their 2017 preseason.
Dempsey, who was a full participant in the session, is on a pathway that could see him appear in preseason games, and it’s at least possible that he’ll be ready at the start of the season.
“The doctors have said it’s OK for him to train,” Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said on Tuesday. “We’ll continue to check in with them as we progress. He’s a veteran player, who hasn’t played a competitive match in six months, so there are fitness concerns around him getting back into form and doing so in a healthy manner.
“I think as a first step we have to see how he does in preseason. Once we see how he does in those, we’ll go from there.”
The Sounders, and his doctors, will be constantly monitoring Dempsey’s progress and looking over the data they collect on him — and every player — on a regular basis. Aside from that, Dempsey has progressed beyond the point where he requires regular check-ins with doctors.
“If we see something we don’t like we’ll take a step back, but as of now he’ll train every day and he’ll continue to work his way in,” Lagerwey said.
Lagerwey was quick to caution that Dempsey’s path to return is far from cleared of obstacles and resisted putting any sort of timetable on Dempsey’s full return. Where Dempsey goes from here, though, won’t be due to any lack of effort or desire.
“We’ve been pleased with his progress, his attitude has been awesome, he’s worked really hard,” Lagerwey said. “We asked him to do a period of work in the offseason and he’s now progressed to a point where he can rejoin the team on a regular basis.
“We still have some mile posts to hit as we continue to progress him and I don’t want to set any expectations. We’ll either hit them or we won’t. We’re not prepared to put any more structure on it than that.”