Clint Dempsey will be part of the United States’ upcoming World Cup qualifiers, after all. Head coach Bruce Arena made the announcement during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio show, about 45 minutes before the full roster was revealed.
Arena had been publicly going back and forth, indicating he was inclined to leave Dempsey off the roster about a week ago before softening his stance a few days later. More than form, Arena’s indecision was based on Dempsey’s health after the second-most prolific scorer in American history missed six months with heart-related issues.
But those concerns appear to have been shelved after Dempsey was able to play 90 minutes in each of the Seattle Sounders’ first two MLS matches. In addition to showing strong fitness, Dempsey has also looked very much like the player who’s been the United States’ most reliable scorer for most of the past decade. Dempsey scored in the Sounders’ opener and would have had another goal in their second game if not for a somewhat questionable handball call by the referee.
Dempsey will go into the Honduras (March 24) and Panama (March 28) matches five goals shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT scoring record. Even if he plays significant minutes, Dempsey shouldn’t have to miss any Sounders matches.