Bruce Arena says he hopes to have Clint Dempsey at the U.S. national team's January camp.
Dempsey, 33, has been sidelined since August with an irregular heartbeat, but in an interview on Fox Sports ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup final, the USA head coach sounded optimistic about the Seattle Sounders attacker's progress.
"I spoke to Clint yesterday, he is making good progress," Arena said. "Obviously his health is a priority. And we are hoping we can bring him into camp in January, just casually get back into the swing of things. Perhaps not even considering him playing, and then have him ready to go as Seattle starts their preseason (in February)."
Dempsey has resumed light training with the Sounders. Though he may not be ready to play in the USA's January friendlies against as-yet unnamed opponents, Arena hopes to have Dempsey back for the team's crucial Hexagonal games in March against Honduras and Panama.
"Hopefully he's ready for the U.S. team when [World Cup] qualifiers come around," Arena said.
Even with Dempsey sidelined, the Sounders completed a successful run through the postseason by lifting MLS Cup on Saturday after a shootout win over Toronto FC.