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Donovan, missing this week’s game because of bronchitis, also would like to play in the Olympics. The U.S. Soccer Federation would have to determine how best to use its wild cards to fill roster gaps.

Fulham pushed Dempsey up to forward for part of the season because of injuries. With the national team, he’s mostly been at midfield under coaches Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley and Klinsmann.

“I think he’s a forward,” Wynalda said. “I’ve watched him enough. My argument is just because he’s willing to do the work in the midfield doesn’t mean that we should cheat ourselves of a good forward. He needs to have a little bit more rest out there. Take a couple miles off of him. Let him get the ball when he’s rested, not when he’s tired, and let’s see how good he is because I’m convinced that he’s a lot more talented than he’s even shown us up to this point.”

There’s been talk that bigger clubs could be interested in Dempsey, whose contract expires after the 2012-13 season. There’s always a danger of going to a team where playing time is scarce, as defender Oguchi Onyewu learned when he got into just one competitive match for AC Milan.

“Some of my best memories are at Fulham,” Dempsey said. “I’m having another good season. Hopefully our team can finish in the top half. After this year I have one year left, and we’ll have to see what happens. But I’ve always been a believer that you’ve got to make the most of where you’re at, and right now I’m at Fulham.”

Two years ago, Dempsey became the first American to appear in a European final _ Atletico Madrid beat Fulham for the title of the Europa League, the continent’s No. 2 club tournament. Collecting firsts for American soccer players hasn’t been Dempsey’s goal, but they’ve brought recognition to the Londoner with the East Texas drawl.

“I think everybody tries to go as far as they can,” he said. “And if you do well and set the bar really high, well then, you’re a pioneer.”