Los Angeles (AFP) – US international striker Clint Dempsey has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2016 season as he battles his irregular heartbeat problem, his club said Tuesday.

The Seattle Sounders said the forward, who returned to light training on September 14 after discovery of the problem in August, had stopped training again last week.

The development means Dempsey, 33, will miss Seattle’s push for the Major League Soccer playoffs as well as the USA’s upcoming friendly against Cuba and a crunch World Cup qualifier with Mexico in November.

“Unfortunately we’ve got to rule him out for the rest of the season,” Sounders president Garth Lagerwey told reporters.

“We simply have not been able to get to a point where we felt comfortable there was a realistic chance. We are not comfortable putting any kind of pressure on this. 

“His return to play is not important relative to his health, both short term and long term. We feel by ruling him out today it puts us in the best decision of being able to eventually get him back hopefully for the 2017 season. 

“We feel this is the best thing for Clint to get him healthy.”

Dempsey, one of the most respected figures in US soccer after a successful career which has included spells in England with Fulham and Tottenham, has scored 34 goals for Seattle since signing with the club in 2013.

He is also rapidly closing in Landon Donovan’s USA international goals record (57), with 52 goals in 130 internationals.