Clint Dempsey still isn't 100 percent after suffering a groin injury in warm-ups on Tuesday. Jurgen Klinsmann said that he is still limited to straight ahead movements, but that the United States' captain should re-join training at full capacity on Friday, according to Jeff Carlisle.
Dempsey was in the Americans' starting lineup for their friendly against Azerbaijan on Tuesday and went out for warm-ups with the rest of the team. He stretched, ran, did agility drills and even finishing with the squad, but left the field moments before the rest of the players and minutes later, was scratched from the match. U.S. Soccer said that the decision to pull him from the match was precautionary and after the match Klinsmann said the injury was very minor.
The U.S. struggled without Dempsey, sticking with the diamond midfield they planned on playing, but inserting Chris Wondolowski up front in Dempsey's place. Wondolowski played fine, getting two good chances, but he is an out-and-out striker, whereas Dempsey drops deeper, contributes more to the link-up play and can be as much of a midfielder as a forward at times. Without him there to do that, Michael Bradley, who played at the tip of the diamond, had too much responsibility and struggled.
It is important that the U.S. get Dempsey back soon so they can give their system a try with him there to help Bradley some. If he returns to training at full speed tomorrow, he should be able to play against Turkey and Nigeria without a problem, giving the Americans two friendlies -- plus a closed door scrimmage against Belgium in Brazil -- to refine their play with their captain.