Dempsey has undergone an unspecified "procedure," according to Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey, "to address some of the issues" associated with his irregular heartbeat. He has not yet been cleared to play.
Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, who has been sidelined since last month while undergoing evaluations on an irregular heartbeat, returned to practice on Wednesday morning at Starfire Sports.
Dempsey has undergone an unspecified “procedure,” according to Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey, “to address some of the issues” associated with his irregular heartbeat. Though Dempsey has been cleared to return to training, he has not yet be cleared to play.
Lagerwey is “cautiously optimistic” that Dempsey could return to action at some point this season — a sentiment echoed by interim coach Brian Schmetzer — but declined to provide even a rough timetable on when that might be. Lagerwey also would not elaborate on the nature of Dempsey’s medical procedure, citing privacy issues.
“We have a protocol to bring him back and allow him to begin exercising in a safe manner,” Lagerwey said. “We’ll follow the protocol. We’ll adjust and consult constantly with the doctors and with Clint. It will be a work-in-progress.
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“When Clint feels better and when the doctors fell it is safe, then we will consider his return to play.”
Dempsey has been dealing with related health concerns throughout the 2016 season, according to club sources, until the issue came to a head following the home victory over Portland on Aug. 21. He participated in light drills with his teammates on Wednesday morning but nothing more.
“I’m just in a really good mood,” Schmetzer said. “I think it’s super positive news. … He was in great spirits and the team was obviously lifted by him being here.
“It’s similar to Roman (Torres). As Roman was coming back, you could see that the morale was higher. He’s a big personality. He’s ultra-positive. He’s happy to be back here. Everything in that sense is good.”
Seattle (9-13-5) currently sits six points out of the playoff spots with seven matches remaining. It hosts a fellow on-outside-looking-in playoff contender in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field before starting a stretch of three matches in eight days next weekend in Los Angeles.
The Sounders were unbeaten in four matches under Schmetzer with Dempsey in the lineup — the 33-year-old veteran scored five of his eight league goals this season during the span — are winless in three matches in his absence.
“When you have a medical condition like this, you don’t want to put false pressure on a return,” Lagerwey said. “You can’t just say, ‘Clint’s important to us.’ You have to mean it. And if you mean it, then Clint’s health comes first and there is no timetable. You have to wait and see if and when Clint is healthy and ready to return.
“It is really exciting that we’re cautiously optimistic that he’s going to be OK. We feel good. He feels good. There are a lot of positive feelings around his return to the practice field. … Mine is not a medical judgment. It’s an optimistic outlook and one that is based on what we’ve seen so far.”