Clint Dempsey's irregular heartbeat will keep him from leading U.S. in World Cup qualifiers

Written By Mike Decourcy
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The United States men’s national team will have to survive its vital World Cup qualifier next week without its most accomplished player as star forward Clint Dempsey is tested to determine the cause of an irregular heartbeat.

The Seattle Sounders, Dempsey’s club team, announced Friday he would miss a Saturday game against rival Portland to be examined.

The health issue has caused no decline in his recent performance. In fact, Dempsey lately had been playing some of his best soccer of the MLS season. He scored five goals over the past four games, including a hat trick on the road at Orlando City FC and two goals in a 3-1 victory over Portland last Sunday.

Dempsey, 33, was the United States’ best offensive player during their fourth-place finish in the Copa America Centenario tournament at various locations around the country in June. He scored goals in each of the United States’ three victories and set up three other goals with assists. Dempsey ranks second all-time in career USMNT goals with 52, just six short of breaking the nation's all-time scoring record. Dempsey is one of just 50 players from any country who've scored at least 50 international goals.

The good news for the U.S. as it plays a vital game Sept. 2 at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – and another against Trinidad & Tobago Sept. 6 in Jacksonville that could have meaning in advancing to the next qualifying stage -- is forward Jozy Altidore has been on a tear since healing from a hamstring injury that kept him from playing Copa America. He has scored in each of the past four games as Toronto FC advanced into first place in the MLS Eastern Conference.

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