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Brian Schmetzer can’t promise Clint Dempsey will return

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Sounders head coach tells KJR “that’s something we’re working through” when asked if Dempsey will play again.

MLS: Seattle Sounders at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Schmetzer opened up on the status of Clint Dempsey during his weekly interview with Dave “Softy” Mahler and Dick Fain from 950 KJR. After waxing poetic on duels won and other successes from the Sounders record tying 7th straight win against the Portland Timbers, the interview addressed the correlation between Seattle’s unbeaten streak and the absence of arguably their biggest star.

Schmetzer didn’t speak on the Sounders’ current run of form with regards to the absence of Dempsey, but he did take the time to reiterate his appreciation for the USMNT star’s contributions to the team.

“We are happy to have him,” Schmetzer said. “He’s scored a ton of important goals for us. In 2016, when I first took over, he was actually in the line-up for the couple games that sparked us in the run where we eventually made it to the championship.”

With regards to Dempsey’s current status with the team, Schmetzer added, “He’s been a part of the squad and he will continue to be a big part of the squad until he says otherwise.”

Taken alone, those quotes could hearten fans who hope to see Deuce ride off towards a Texan sunset with a few last thrilling performances in 2018. But when asked if he expects Dempsey to play again this year, Schmetzer was non-committal.

“That’s something we’re working through,” he said. “If the opportunity happens then great. If it doesn’t, then we’ll send him off in the right fashion. That’s an ongoing discussion. The injured back is something that’s tricky sometimes, so you never know.”

Dempsey has not started since the Sounders’ 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers that came right before the current unbeaten streak started. His last appearance was an 11-minute stint against the San Jose Earthquakes in which he hit a midfield shot on an open net off the post. The last time he was named to a gameday roster was the July 29 win over the New York City FC, a game in which he didn’t appear.

The team has maintained that a lower-back injury has kept him out since then, and he’s not even been at training for at least a couple weeks. At the same time, the Sounders are on a historic winning streak. Combined, there appear to be multiple obstacles to overcome before he’ll see the field again. Now that Schmetzer seems unsure of his return, fans will be left to wonder if they’ve seen the last of the prolific goal scorer in rave green.

After only netting one goal in the first half of the year, Dempsey will surely have his work cut out for him if he hopes to break back into the squad.

Of course, he’s beaten the odds before.