Clint Dempsey scratched from U.S. friendly as precaution with groin injury

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Clint Dempsey (8) was scratched from the USA's starting lineup vs. Azerbaijan with a groin injury. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Clint Dempsey, Rogelio Chavez

Who knows what the future holds, but it's likely not the greatest omen for the U.S. men's national team that its captain was a late injury scratch before its first World Cup send-off match.

Clint Dempsey was yanked from the U.S. lineup right before its friendly vs. Azerbaijan in San Francisco on Tuesday with a groin injury. U.S. Soccer officials told reporters it was precautionary, and Jurgen Klinsmann played down its significance to ESPN in a halftime interview. With less than three weeks remaining until the Americans open the World Cup against Ghana, it's wise for Klinsmann to exhibit sound judgment with Dempsey, who has eight goals and three assists in nine games for the Seattle Sounders this season.

Chris Wondolowski was inserted into the lineup in Dempsey's place, slotting in beside Jozy Altidore in a 4-4-2, and he had two golden opportunities in the first half, with two goal-bound headers saved by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Agayev.