What Happens to Clint Dempsey's USMNT Role If He Remains Out of Form?

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2014

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Clint Dempsey is one of the most important players on the United States men's national team, but he is not in the best form at the moment.

The 30-year-old Seattle Sounders midfielder went on loan to his former club Fulham in January to gain match fitness and to be ready for the start of the Major League Soccer season on March 8, but the move has not helped him much.

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With the Cottagers in the middle of a relegation crisis, Dempsey has seen the field just four times and has failed to produce a single goal or assist. 

Those statistics are the exact opposite of what American fans wanted to see from "Deuce" during his time overseas before the beginning of the domestic campaign.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup now just four months away, it is time to start thinking about what United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann will do if Dempsey remains out of form.

Currently, the general thought process of the American soccer public sees Dempsey either starting alongside Landon Donovan in the attacking part of the midfield in a 4-2-3-1 or only one of those stars starting with Graham Zusi and another winger surrounding the playmaker in the No. 10 role. 

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It is more likely that Dempsey, Donovan and Zusi will start together if they are all in form heading into Brazil, but if Dempsey keeps up his string of bad form that dates back to his Seattle debut, a change could be made to that potential attacking trio, who will start behind either Aron Johannsson or Jozy Altidore. 

One could make the argument that an in-form Fabian Johnson or Eddie Johnson could take over one of the wing positions and Donovan would fill in the No. 10 role if Dempsey becomes a liability. 

Other players out there could step up in the next four months, but those two are the most logical replacements as of right now because of their speed and recent international experience. 

While it is true that a player like Dempsey can be a difference-maker in an instant regardless of form, it may be a good idea for Klinsmann to use him off the bench if he continues to struggle. 

Another thing playing against Dempsey's chances of resurrecting his form is the fact that he has not spent the preseason with his Sounders teammates. 

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 10:  Clint Dempsey #2 of the Seattle Sounders FC runs with the ball during MLS game action against the Toronto FC August 10, 2013 at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Brad White/Getty Images

By going in search of playing time and good form at Fulham, Dempsey has missed out on a chance of gaining chemistry with his teammates, which is something he clearly didn't have after his move from Tottenham in August. 

If you look at the decisions made by Donovan and Zusi, they both stayed to be a part of Klinsmann's January camp and are training with their respective MLS sides to be in top shape when March rolls around. 

In Dempsey's case, it is understandable that he wanted to reignite his form of old and help a club that gave him so much at the start of his career overseas, but he may have been forcing the issue too much, and it may end up costing him a starting spot in Brazil. 

It is worth noting that there are still four whole months left until the World Cup, but with every week that Dempsey struggles, the concern of him performing well for the United States in Brazil will grow.

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.