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Clint Dempsey and Sacha Kljestan Continue Struggles
You know all about the injuries plaguing the U.S. soccer diaspora, but poor form is creeping into the conversation as well. It's not encouraging—not this close to the 2014 World Cup.
February 14, 2014
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It’s always a good thing to see young Americans succeeding abroad. Most recently, Lynden Gooch of Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman of Fulham, both members of the U.S. under-20 national team, have broken into the reserve sides for their respective Premier League clubs. Gooch (no, that one; this one) has been a powerhouse for the Black Cats U-18 side all season. Since being tapped up to the U-21s, the California native is providing his usual spark now in a super-sub role late in games. In a busy first week in the Developmental Premier League, Gooch picked up two assists (here’s the one versus Newcastle) in three appearances, earning rave reviews for his brief cameos. Hyndman, who has long been considered a top Fulham youth prospect, has also made the jump in recent weeks. Making his debut in January, the 17-year-old has since split his time between the Whites and the U.S. under-18 national team for a recent trip to Spain for the Copa Del Atlantico tournament. On Wednesday, Hyndman returned to England and put in his longest shift to date, playing the final half-hour in a 5-3 win over Aston Villa.
I don’t need to tell you, but Juan Agudelo has been trending up for weeks. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta recently conducted an in-depth interview with the current FC Utrecht forward. He discussed his desire to succeed in Europe, what he learned in MLS, and his goals for the rest of the year (Hint: it rhymes with "Twirled Pup.") Agudelo also discussed a recent chance meeting with compatriot Aron Johannsson, and this weekend’s American Derby, of sorts, between AZ and Utrecht. Brian shared this item earlier today.
...AND THEY'RE NOT.
Clint Dempsey’s loan spell at Fulham was supposed to be something special—a homecoming and curtain call all wrapped up in one. The American skipper was supposed to bag a goal or two, help spark a Fulham run out of the drop zone and generally raise his play prior to the MLS season and, of course, the World Cup. Instead: not so much. It’s tough to determine if Dempsey is simply lacking sharpness or if Fulham are really this bad. Regardless, after several chances, new manager Rene Meulensteen has rightly refused to abide the “farewell tour” aspects of Dempsey’s stay. For what we can assume would have been his final match at Craven Cottage, against Liverpool on Saturday, Dempsey failed for the second straight time to make the gameday roster. This leaves only one fixture remaining, next week at West Brom, on his so-far woeful two-month spell. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid remains unconcerned about an apparent dip in form, but it’s clear Dempsey has not looked his usual self.
As if the numerous injuries to Jurgen Klinsmann’s European contingent weren’t bad enough, now questions of form across the Atlantic are piling up as we near the final run toward Brazil. The latest affected is Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who has featured for just one half of action in the club’s last nine matches. A mild leg injury kept him out for some of the time but, since being cleared to return, the 28-year-old has watched mostly from the bench. The Purple-and-Whites, sitting third in the Pro League table, play Mons on Sunday.
Who else belongs on one of these lists? Tell us below, please.
ASN Contributing Editor Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter.