Clint Dempsey in Gold Cup

The latest U.S. National Team roster is missing one big name. For the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, Jürgen Klinsmann decided to leave Clint Dempsey out of the lineup. The German manager has insisted that this is purely a temporary move to give new players an opportunity, but could this be the beginning of the end for the 32-year-old Texan?

Without a doubt, Clint Dempsey has been one of the most influential and recognizable American soccer players of the last decade. The striker has spent time playing for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League. He has racked up over 100 appearances for the Stars and Stripes, scoring 48 goals in that span. In the big matches, Dempsey has time and time again proven himself to be one of the Americans’ most dependable players scoring goals against the likes Spain, Brazil, and Ghana.

Despite his impressive playing record, the fact remains that Dempsey is 32  and chances of him being an effective weapon at the next World Cup are slim-to-none. If he had been included for this next round of qualifiers, he would have been the fourth oldest outfield player on the roster. By the time the next World Cup rolls around, Dempsey will be 35 years old and far past the prime of his career.

With all of that being said, Dempsey’s exclusion allows a new wave of American forwards to test their skills on the international level. Included in the latest roster are Jordan Morris (21), Bobby Wood (22) and Gyasi Zardes (24). While these three strikers have all had opportunities in the past to impress on the national level, this latest round of fixtures could provide them with the chance to log some meaningful minutes in the heart of the U.S. attack.

For me, the player with the most to gain in this potentially brief period without Dempsey has to be Morris. The 21-year-old Stanford student has already established himself as an American soccer hero through his goal against Mexico in the famous “Dos a Cero” victory, and is now being touted by some as a potential savior for the U.S. side. Morris, while still being far off from the skill level and experience of Dempsey, appears to possess the raw talent and nose for goal that made Dempsey such an impactful player at the international level. The upcoming qualifiers will give Morris the chance to build chemistry with the national side against somewhat weaker opposition (with all due respect to St. Vincent and T&T).

Had these qualifiers been against some of the bigger teams in CONCACAF, I think that we would have seen Dempsey included in the lineup. The exclusion also gives him an opportunity to get some much-needed rest after a taxing season in the MLS. While I fully expect Dempsey to remain a pivotal part of the U.S. set up for the next year or two, I also think that we are finally seeing a transition away from him as the star striker in the American attack. When his playing career comes to an end, maybe will see the long-awaited return of Deuce on the mic.


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