It’s official: Clint Dempsey will play for the USMNT World Cup qualifier against Guatemala this Friday. It will be the first time the former team captain has played under Jurgen Klinsmann in nine months. Dempsey, 33, was omitted from the squad for a pair of qualifiers back in November.
With 48 goals to his name, the Seattle Sounders forward is second in all-time scoring for the U.S. behind Landon Donovan with 57. Five of Dempsey’s goals for the national team have come against Guatemala and with goals in short supply for the yanks of late, Klinsmann will be particularly keen on him adding to that tally.
Playing away against Guatemala has proved challenging for the U.S. – the last time they won there was 2008. However, since that match, they’ve managed five draws on Guatemalan soil and a draw would put the Americans in a decent position heading into the home leg of the tie in March 29 in Columbus, Ohio. However, winning both matches against the Guatemalans would guarantee the U.S. passage into the final six-team round of qualifying that gets underway in 2017.
The versatile Dempsey could be deployed up top or in a deeper, midfield role, but with Jozy Altidore coming off a hamstring injury, it’s entirely possible Dempsey will be partnered up top with young Union Berlin striker, Bobby Wood.
Dempsey last appeared for the U.S. at last summer’s Gold Cup.
Alejandro Bedoya was also recalled to the team and the experienced midfielder, who plies his trade with Nantes in Ligue 1, will be making his first appearance for his country since October.
Hertha Berlin center back, John Brooks will also be back in the side along with on-loan Tottenham right back DeAndre Yedlin. Less certain however, is Fabian Johnson. The in-form Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder was called up for the qualifiers but is struggling to overcome a groin injury. Jermaine Jones, meanwhile, is still serving out a six-game suspension and will not be part of the team. In terms of goalkeepers, Klinsmann will choose between the more experienced Tim Howard or Brad Guzan, who has been getting more regular playing time at his club team, Aston Villa. One player U.S. fans will have to wait and see in an American jersey is Christian Pulisic. The promising Borussia Dortmund midfielder was initially called up for Friday’s match, but had to cancel his travel plans due to illness.
Full squad: Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Time Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Leon) Defenders: Ventura Alvarado (America), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (DC United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland) Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (NYCFC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Darlington Nabge (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes, (Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) You can catch the United States taking on Guatemala in World Cup qualifying this Friday, March 25 at 10:00 p.m. EST on BeINSports.