Clint Dempsey might not be fit enough to start for the United States against Brazil in an international friendly Wednesday night. The Fulham attacker, who scored 17 goals in the Premier League this season, missed the last day of the season with a groin injury. The injury isn't a concern anymore, but fitness levels after several weeks out are.
"I'm lacking a little bit of match fitness, but [I] continue working hard," Dempsey said. "I felt OK. As far as getting on the ball I felt confident. But I lacked a little bit of fitness getting around the field and being able to pressurize defensively."
The 29-year-old sat out Saturday's friendly with Scotland. Landon Donovan, who scored a hat trick, and Jose Torres started in the wide attacking positions for the 5-1 win. They might get the nod against Brazil as well if Jurgen Klinsmann doesn't feel Dempsey is ready to start.
"We'll look at him tomorrow – we have another training session – and then we'll take it from there," Klinsmann said. "We're not stressing out about it."
Klinsmann did note the other 22 players are all fit, “a good situation for me the coach to be in.”
The other player to miss the Scotland game, Jozy Altidore, should be ready to start. The AZ Alkmaar striker praised Dempsey's season, which saw the Texan become the first American to score a hat trick in the Premier League as well as become the all-time top scoring American in England.
"You can see the difference between the now and the first year he came [to Europe]," Altidore said. "The first year he was a bit raw, second year he was getting the hang of it, playing. He fell out of the lineup, he got back in it – a testament to his personality, his character. I think these five years say what he is as a person – a fighter."
The United States will miss that tenacity and goal-threat if Dempsey can't play. However, Klinsmann may use his star off the bench.
"I'm not 90 minutes fit but I'm ready to go in whatever capacity the coach wants to utilze me," Dempsey said.
Follow ZAC LEE RIGG on Twitter or shoot him an email.
- Clint Dempsey
- Jurgen Klinsmann