Clint Dempsey says he still has more to give to the U.S. National Team, even if he won’t figure into Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans until at least sometime next year.
The Sounders FC forward told KESN 103.3 FM in Dallas on Saturday that although the international travel load with the USMNT ultimately took a toll on his body in 2015, he expects to return to the fold next year, his 13th wearing the Stars and Stripes.
“I felt good with my return this year with the national team,” Dempsey said. “I think I played in 10 games, scored nine goals. I’ve enjoyed my time playing for the country. I still think that there’s some more games to be played. But at the same time, it’s the travel of playing with the USA (that) takes a toll on your body.”
Dempsey, 32, suffered a hamstring injury while on international duty in March and was forced to miss the USMNT’s games in Denmark and Switzerland. He ultimately scored nine goals in 10 appearances for the USMNT this year before he was left off the roster for two upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, the USMNT’s final games of the year.
“That’s kind of what caused me to start getting some injuries at the beginning of this year,” Dempsey said. “Especially that trip to Switzerland (in March) where I got off the plane and trained and picked up that (hamstring) injury. That kind of started my injuries off for this year because the year before that I didn’t have one. So I just got to be smart about how I keep my body in top form and make sure that if I get called on again that I’ll be able to go represent.”
Dempsey could return to the team as early as the annual January camp, or when the next round of World Cup Qualifiers resumes in March.
Klinsmann said last week that he spoke with Dempsey about the latest roster omission and that “it’s all fine,” and Dempsey echoed that the two spoke before the announcement was made. Klinsmann instead opted to take youngsters like Bobby Wood, the LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris, the Sounders FC Academy product and current Stanford standout.
"He hit me up, left a voicemail and a text," Dempsey said. "[It's] just kind of what he said in the press, that we're going to go with younger strikers, looking towards [that] they prove themselves for the future -- that at the end of the day he's the coach and he's got to do what he thinks is best for the team going forward."
Still, Dempsey said he’s ready to contribute on the road to Russia 2018, as long as his body holds up.
“It’s kind of one of those things you just kind of take it year to year to see how your body’s feeling,” Dempsey said, “and to see if you’re playing well enough to get called in — to make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to get those looks in camp.
“If you’re not playing well enough for your club, then you’re probably not going to get those looks for country. And at the same time, if your body’s not right, then you can’t do anything there. So I just got to make sure that I’m focused, take care of my body, keep producing on the club level and we’ll see where things go from there.”
Dempsey’s second full season with the Sounders ended on Sunday night, when FC Dallas beat Seattle in the Western Conference Semifinals. Dempsey finished the year with 10 goals and 10 assists in 20 appearances, and he scored two goals in the team’s three postseason games.