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Sep 2, 2012

Clint Dempsey included in U.S.' WC squad

CHICAGO -- Clint Dempsey's schedule is a whole lot busier now.

Two days after his surprise move to Tottenham, the forward was included on the U.S. men's roster Sunday 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 1-0-1 records 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 on the initial 25-man roster, 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 Cottagers 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, the high-profile -- and lucrative -- competition featuring the best teams in Europe. 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 EPL last season but was knocked out of England's final Champions League spot when Chelsea, another English club, 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.

"First of all, we are happy that this whole thing was finalized," Klinsmann said. "It is really important now that Clint can put this behind him. It was not all the time pretty what happened the last couple of months. ... Obviously he dragged this with him the whole summer. He was concerned about it, which is normal. I'm happy the decision was finally made and finally the move happened. Now he comes in and we'll evaluate him."

Dempsey has been training with Fulham's youth players, and also was doing work with the club's trainer. That kind of one-on-one work can sometimes be more beneficial than training with the full squad, Klinsmann said.

"We'll test his fitness level right away when he comes in," Klinsmann said. "Based on all that information ... we can see how we play him in those two very, very important World Cup qualifiers."

The Americans are unbeaten against the Reggae Boyz with a 10-0-8 record, but have never won a World Cup qualifier in Jamaica. They'd never won a game in Mexico until last month, either, and Klinsmann said the upset at Azteca Stadium can only boost the Americans' confidence as they head to Jamaica.

"Jamaica, it's a very good team. ... They have a lot of speed in there so they're dangerous in transition," Klinsmann said. "We know what to expect so that's why have lot of respect for them. But I also think if we play to our strengths, we have chance to beat them in Jamaica."

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England), Sean Johnson (Chicago), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake)

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander, Spain), Geoff Cameron (Stoke, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Maurice Edu (Stoke, England), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis, Mexico), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland, Denmark), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City, England)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana, Mexico), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), Brek Shea (Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, Germany), Graham Zusi (Kansas City)

Forward: Jozy Altidore (Alkmaar, Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham, England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna, Mexico)

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