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Clint Dempsey injures groin, out of USMNT lineup

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The U.S. captain's scratch was said to be precautionary.

USA TODAY Sports

Clint Dempsey was pulled from the United States starting XI with a groin injury he suffered in warm-ups. The American captain was supposed to start against Azerbaijan, but felt something off and was scratched, which U.S. Soccer said was just precautionary.

Dempsey looked fine to start warm-ups. He took part in drills with the rest of the team -- stretching, passing and shooting -- but left the field a few moments early and was scratched not long after.

With Dempsey out, Jurgen Klinsmann tapped Chris Wondolowski to step into the starting lineup next to Jozy Altidore. That presents a bit of a lost learning experience for the U.S., not just because they were without one of their best players and captain, but because Wondolowski doesn't play like Dempsey so the entire team approach had to change. Then again, the U.S. doesn't have anyone like Dempsey so it is not as if Klinsmann had another option once the 31-year-old was scratched.