U.S. captain Dempsey continues bench run at Fulham

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U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has pushed his players to take up offseason loans to keep fitness in preparation for this year’s World Cup.

Clint Dempsey’s situation is likely not what he had in mind.

The current Sounders’ striker has been on loan with former club Fulham FC since December 24th. Personal fitness issues along with the ineptitude of the side itself has made for a bad mix, forcing the loanee to see more time on the bench than he surely anticipated.

Dempsey did not make the 18-man roster for the second match in a row, missing in action as Fulham dropped a 3-2 decision to Liverpool. This follows a similar scenario that saw him out of contention against Manchester United in their shocking 2-2 draw on Sunday.

The United exclusion can likely be chalked up to the fact that he played 120 minutes of less-than-inspiring football against lowly Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup four days prior.

Wednesday evening was a different story. Fulham boss René Meulensteen decided to emulate his success against United days earlier by trotting out the same experimental side against Liverpool, excluding names like Dempsey, Brede Hangeland and others, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. The gamble almost paid off. Fulham nearly eked out a point against Liverpool, but a late penalty gifted the Reds a deserved victory Wednesday night.

While Dempsey’s form has been suspect in limited time for the club, recent decisions to bench the player may very well be the act of a manager desperate for any solution to avoid the relegation zone. Reasoning aside, it is still of no solace to Dempsey, who never managed to contribute in the duration of his two month loan. The U.S. captain managed six total appearances with the club, including three starts in four Premiership matches and a pair of FA Cup starts. In total, the Dempsey logged 475 minutes, managing all of six shots through six appearances.

Of the matches where Dempsey was up for selection, Fulham managed only a single victory — an FA Cup fourth round win against Norwich. As fate would have it, the American midfielder did not see the pitch that day.

His second stint at Fulham certainly pales in comparison to the successful run that propelled him to Tottenham just a few years ago, and continues his run of uninspiring club play stemming from his arrival in Seattle. Dempsey now looks ahead to all of one remaining match with the Cottagers; an away fixture against West Brom on the 22nd.

Barring an unlikely extension, his loan comes to an end February 28th.