September 6, 2012
By Michael Lewis
HE'S NOT MATCH FIT, BUT ...
Dempsey's ready to put in the minutes, but how many?
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Clint Dempsey admits he doesn't know how many minutes he will be able to put in when the United States faces Jamaica in a World Cup qualifying match on Friday. But he says he is willing to run until he drops.
|Clint Dempsey: "You know me. I want to play and if I can, I'll run myself into the ground."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Dempsey, who hasn't played a competitive match since June, is in shape, but is not match fit. That probably will probably make the 29-year-old midfielder-forward a second-half substitute rather than a starter in the CONCACAF Group A match at The Office.
Asked how many minutes he could play, Dempsey replied, "I'm not going to say. Whatever they call on me to do I'll be out there as long as I can and do the best I can do. You know me. I want to play and if I can, I'll run myself into the ground. I'm not going to put a number on it."
But even Dempsey realized that he can't go full throttle for 90 minutes. He said he was able to do some fitness with the Fulham trainer. When he rejoined the National Team and did a fitness test and was happy with the results.
But . . .
"But you can't really replicate what it's like to play in a game until you get out and play in it," Dempsey said before the Americans took the field for training at National Stadium on Thursday. "In training, the type of conditions that you have to train in, in the humidity and the heat, that's just been more of an adjustment getting used to that. You always have to work on your sharpness. That's going to come with games."
Dempsey is going through a lot of adjustments in the wake of his transfer from Fulham to Tottenham on the final day of the summer transfer window last Friday. The former New England Revolution standout did not leave under the best of circumstances.
"It's good to have that behind me now and looking towards the future," Dempsey said. "I'm excited about the qualifiers coming up with the U.S. team, but I'm also excited about the opportunity about playing with a team like Tottenham and breaking into the lineup."
Dempsey said he was hurt the way his 5 1/2-year tenure with Fulham ended, “how I was portrayed in the end. That's in the past now, I want to thank the fans for 5 1/2 great years and thank the chairman for taking a chance on me from MLS. I'll always look back at my time there with a smile on my face."
During a turbulent three-week period Fulham manager Martin Jol essentially said that Dempsey was turning his back on the team, demanding to be transferred.
"Everybody has a right to their own opinion," Dempsey said. "I put in some good work there, a good 5 1/2 years. I'm happy with the job that I did there. You can't really question my heart. I put everything into every game. That's what I've always done my whole career. I look back at that time with no regrets.
It has been a crazy week for Dempsey when you considered what he has gone through. First, the 11th-hour transfer last Saturday. He sat in the stands to watch Tottenham on Saturday before flying to Miami to join U.S. National Team camp. He and the team arrived here on Thursday before they depart on Saturday for the second game against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, it is back to London again.
"It's definitely been a rollercoaster, up and down," Dempsey said. "That was a stressful time. You don't know where you're going. Any time you've got a move going on, you did something you really have to think about, you're uprooting your family from where you are, you move into something new. That's trying to find a place, trying to find schools for your kids, a place to get settled to get into. A new team you've got to adjust to and where you're going to fit in because it's not always guaranteed that when you make moves things are going to work out. I'm just looking forward to working hard and breaking into that lineup there."