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Clint Dempsey passes fitness test with flying colors

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Sounders performance analyst happy with Dempsey’s progress.

Seattle Sounders FC’s annual beep test establishes baseline fitness. Getting a baseline maximum aerobic heart rate is more important than winning it. Since professional soccer players are involved, though, it becomes a competition. Cristian Roldan lasted four full cycles longer than Henry Wingo to take the 2017 beep test title. There was a tie for third place between Harry Shipp, Jordy Delem and Brian Nana-Sinkam. For Sounders Manager of Performance & Sports Science Dave Tenney, it was an opportunity to calibrate fitness levels for everyone, including Clint Dempsey.

“He’s cleared to train fully. He’s been training fully. He’s done about three weeks, maybe four. I think he’s in a good place,” Tenney told Sounder at Heart. “I think [the beep test] continues to check the box that he’s where we want him to be and he continues to track along nicely.”

At this point, Dempsey’s return is progressing as expected, checking off each box necessary to be back in competitive play after heart issues sidelined him in late 2016. Dempsey and Seattle broadcaster Steve Zakuani finished in the middle third among the team’s outfield players in the test.

Early in the beep test a certain broadcaster, a Honey Badger and Clint Dempsey were going strong

Posted by Sounder at Heart on Thursday, January 26, 2017

The goalkeepers watched from above, with Stefan Frei pounding on the glass wall of the weightlifting room while Roldan ran the final four cycles by himself.

“I didn’t really have the expectations that we’d see huge jumps in scores from last year, because again we’re some ways behind in the prep period,” Tenney said. “We needed to focus on recovery so long, but then you have someone like Cristian who improved his score from last year. It shows his evolution from year to year to year.”

The midfielder who covered the most ground last season isn’t in training camp yet. Nicolas Lodeiro may have challenged Roldan’s top spot, if play on the field translates directly to the beep test, but Tenney thinks the younger Roldan will reach a similar peak fitness as Lodeiro.

“I think Cristian is on a course to be that level of fitness that Nico is. Theoretically I think players peak at 26, 27 years of age,” Tenney explained. “You see Nico with the distance that he covers in games I think Cristian is on that ascent.”

Prior to the beep test Brian Schmetzer told Henry Wingo that he expected the Homegrown Player to finish in the top two or “I’ll call your mom.” Wingo expected that he would be in the top five. Wingo finished second so no call will be needed.