Howard to captain USA again in Dempsey's absence

The USA goalkeeper will don the captain's armband on Friday in Kansas City when the Americans take on Jamaica in their penultimate World Cup qualifier.
Tim Howard will assume captain's duties for the U.S. national team in Clint Dempsey's absence, U.S. Soccer confirmed on its official Twitter feed on Wednesday.

Friday's World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., will mark the third time this year that Howard wears the armband for Jurgen Klinsmann. The Everton and USA No. 1 goalkeeper captained the Americans in February's World Cup qualifier in Honduras and again in August's friendly at Bosnia & Herzegovina.

If the USA sweeps both qualifying matches against Jamaica and Panama, then Howard -- assuming he starts -- would tie Kasey Keller for the most wins for a goalkeeper in USA history with 53. Howard is also currently tied with Tony Meola for second most clean sheets in USA history with 32.

As for Dempsey, he was left off the USA roster given his recent hamstring injury, although he is expected to take part in the Seattle Sounders' league clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps Wednesday night. Dempsey last played Sept. 13 against Real Salt Lake as a substitute, and he has yet to score in five games with the Sounders since joining the club from Tottenham this summer.

"For Clint, it is really important to pick up the rhythm, to get back into shape and play games," Klinsmann told "He needs to train very intensely and get as many sessions as possible. He had injury problems, the transfer was done late and he didn’t have a proper preseason, and he’s running behind. So he has to do some catching up, and he will eventually get it done.”