Dempsey looking to spark U.S. against Mexico
PHOENIX -- Two days after appearing in an English Premier League game with three other Americans, midfielder Clint Dempsey worked out with the U.S. national team Monday afternoon.
He hopes the jet lag will wear off before the U.S. meets Mexico in a friendly Wednesday night.
"This morning, I woke up at 6 o'clock," Dempsey said after practice at Grand Canyon University. "Normally I don't do that. I'm not quite there yet, but it's getting better."
On Saturday, Dempsey was one of four Americans on the field when Fulham beat Newcastle 2-1 in the Premier League. Dempsey, who came on in the 78th minute, joined defender Carlos Bocanegra and forward Brian McBride while defender Oguchi Onyewu played for Newcastle.
"It's kind of cool just to think about," Dempsey said. "It's funny to know somebody on the other team and joke around with him during the game. It's good to see more Americans making the move over there, and hopefully there'll be more to come."
Dempsey joined Fulham on Jan. 10 for a transfer fee that could reach $4 million.
Dempsey said he's enjoyed his brief time in England and is looking forward to earning a start. This week, though, he is concentrating on beating Mexico, the United States' fiercest rival.
The United States has dominated the rivalry recently, going 7-2-1 against Mexico since 2000. The Americans are 6-0-1 on home soil in that stretch, outscoring Mexico 11-0 in those games.
Interim U.S. coach Bob Bradley said he selected Dempsey for this game because he likes his attacking style, which earned him a job in England.
"The reason he's there is he's got an aggressiveness going forward, fearlessness when he gets around the goal in terms of taking chances, and that's what we're looking for from him every time he steps on the field," Bradley said.
Bradley said he didn't know whether Dempsey would play in the middle or on the outside.
"It depends on how the team plays," Bradley said. "The most important thing is to still find a way for him to get the ball in situations going forward where his attacking skills come into play."
Dempsey scored the only goal by an American at last year's World Cup and was voted U.S. player of the year.
The 2004 MLS rookie of the year with New England, Dempsey scored 25 goals in 71 games in his three seasons with the Revolution. He has scored six goals in 23 games for the United States.
"He's a dangerous, attacking player," Bradley said. "He gets chances for himself. He's not afraid to go into the box and mix it up. So I think he's an important player for us."
Dempsey is one of four U.S. team members who have returned from England to join the squad this week. The others are Bocanegra; midfielder Bobby Convey of Reading FC; and goalkeeper Tim Howard of Everton FC.
Each was dealing with dramatic changes in time and temperature. London is seven hours ahead of Phoenix, and it was nearly 40 degrees warmer in the desert.
"I think it's like 4 in the morning for me right now," Convey said after the U.S. practice. "For us, that's the disadvantage to playing in England and being on the national team. I think my flight was like 15 hours to get all the way here. We'll see how it goes. I feel OK."
Dempsey grew up in Texas and followed the Mexican national team as a youngster. He's looking forward to facing them on Wednesday, even though it may feel like a road game for the Americans. More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the match at 62,000-seat University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, and the crowd is expected to be heavily pro-Mexico.
"I like the style of play that they play," Dempsey said. "It's just one of those things that you look forward to. You like to play against teams that play good football, and hopefully we can win."