MIAMI (AP) — Clint Dempsey started Monday with some fitness testing, then spoke eagerly of training for a few more hours in South Florida's sweltering heat and humidity.
It sure beats the waiting game he's been playing the last few months.
The U.S. forward finally has matches to prepare for again. He hasn't played in a competitive game since June, a streak he hopes to see end Friday when the Americans head to Jamaica for the start of a home-and-home World Cup qualifying series that could go a long way toward which nation gets to take control of Group A.
And it all comes not long after his status in Europe was finally sorted out — with him now playing for Tottenham after more than five years with Fulham.
"I'm very relieved. Looking forward to getting back to playing," Dempsey said. "I think the new team is a perfect fit. They qualified for a place last season for Champions League but missed out on a technicality. But it's still in London. My family doesn't have to move far. My daughter, she can go to another international school and be on the same curriculum. It couldn't have worked out any better in that regard."
The Americans will train in Miami until flying to Jamaica on Wednesday.
Dempsey led Fulham with 23 goals last season, and has long spoken of his desire to play at the highest level — which, for him, means Champions League. Tottenham finished fourth in the Premier League last season, but missed out on getting into the Champions League after Chelsea won the title and England's last qualifying spot, the "technicality" Dempsey spoke of.
For weeks, it seemed like Dempsey was headed to Liverpool. Talks broke down, and it wasn't until the trade window was nearly closed before Fulham struck a deal with Tottenham.
In his eyes, whether Tottenham is actually in the elite tournament field or not, Dempsey sees himself now as part of a Champions League-caliber club.
"I'm disappointed in the way I was portrayed, in the end, with Fulham," Dempsey said. "I always wanted to play at the highest level possible. That was never a secret. That's something I always said. It would be a dream of mine to play Champions League and you want to play on the best team possible to try to get there. That's definitely a team with a lot of quality in it, but now it's all about the team that I'm with."