CHICAGO (AP) — Two days after a surprise move to Tottenham, Clint Dempsey was selected squad in the United States squad for its upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica.
Though Dempsey has not played a competitive match since a qualifier in June, when he scored the lone U.S. goal in a 1-1 draw at Guatemala, coach Jurgen Klinsmann wouldn't rule out using him Friday, when the Americans play at Kingston with the top spot in Group A at stake.
"We are absolutely open to throwing him in the water right away in Jamaica — if he's really in a good physical condition and feeling really fine," Klinsmann said on a conference call.
They host the Reggae Boyz four days later in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. and Jamaica have identical records of one win and one draw in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but the Americans lead Group A on goal differential.
Having Dempsey, who is fifth on the all-time U.S. list with seven goals in World Cup qualifying, is critical because the Americans will be without both Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley. Donovan hasn't played since straining a hamstring during the historic upset at Mexico on Aug. 15, and Bradley injured his thigh in last weekend's Serie A opener.
Midfielder Josh Gatt was in the initial 25-man squad, but had to withdraw with a hamstring injury. He won't be replaced, Klinsmann said.
"There will never be game where we have everybody 100 percent on board. It's just the way soccer works," Klinsmann said.
Dempsey spent the last five-plus seasons at Fulham, where he led the team with 23 goals last year. But he made no secret of his desire to play for a club that could contend for a spot in the Champions League. With a year left on his contract, he had to force a transfer, and he sat out the beginning of the English Premier League season while he and Fulham tried to sort out his status.
Liverpool had appeared to be Dempsey's most likely destination, but negotiations with Fulham fell apart. Then, just before Friday's trade deadline, a deal was reached to send Dempsey to Tottenham. The London club finished fourth in the league last season but was knocked out of England's final Champions League spot when Chelsea won the Champions League title.
Dempsey's new deal was finalized too late for him to play Saturday, but he was in the stands for Tottenham's 1-1 draw with Norwich.