Where does Clint Dempsey’s signing rank in MLS Designated Player history?

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Clint Dempsey’s transfer to the Seattle Sounders will be announced tonight before the game with FC Dallas.

With Deuce reportedly getting a Designated Player contract, after the Sounders maneuvered this week to open up another DP spot, big money is being splashed up in the Emerald City.

Many are still scratching their heads as to how quickly all this happened, but Dempsey has been signed by MLS and he will be unveiled as a Seattle Sounder later this evening.

That’s a fact.

Here’s something we can debate. Since the Designated Player rule was introduced to Major League Soccer in 2007, there have obviously been some marquee signings that stand out above the rest.

(MORE: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC)

But where does Dempsey fit in among the top 10 most influential DPs in MLS’ history?

First, let’s look at the 10 DPs who’ve been huge success stories in MLS… then we’ll get to Dempsey.

1. David Beckham

The man who truly kick-started the modern MLS era we live in. The DP rule was created so LA could pay his huge wages outside of the cap. An innovator who brought much more than stunning goals and sumptuous set pieces to MLS. A pioneer whose arrival is, and will always be, a major part in MLS’ history.

2. Thierry Henry

Arriving a few years after Beckham, Henry almost had the same effect. He’s stardom was still in full swing after excelling at Arsenal and FC Barcelona. He switched the Nou Camp for Red Bull Arena around much fanfare and has captained New York with his mercurial talents. A few flashpoints here and there, but he has been a lynchpin in MLS’ growth and has scored some stunning goals. Just needs an MLS Cup to cap it off.

3. Landon Donovan

When most people across the globe mention MLS, the first player after Beckham that pops into their mind is Donovan. The LA Galaxy star has won five MLS Cups with LA and San Jose and his goals, creativity and All-Star status in 13 consecutive years says it all. A true great of American soccer and someone who has given so much back to the league and soccer fans in the USA.

4. Guillermo Barros Schelotto

The Argentinian genius may have not been the biggest name to grace the DP slot. But boy, could he play. Inspiring the Columbus Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup, Schelotto was the league’s MVP and carved out so many chances for the Crew’s attack. A wizard on the ball and a true competitor on the pitch, he epitomized Columbus’ great team that won the Supporters’ Shield in ’08 and ’09.

5. Robbie Keane

Two MLS Cups in his first two seasons in MLS… Keane’s impact has been sensational. The 33-year-old forward brings all his attacking nous and clever runs to LA and has captained the side to success as first Beckham, then Donovan, left LA. Keane has scored 27 goals in 46 games for LA and he shows no sign of slowing down.

6. Fredy Montero

The Colombian scored goals by the bucket load for Seattle but despite regular season success, a deep run in the playoffs alluded the Emerald City side. Montero is of course still a Seattle player, but is out on loan at Sporting Lisbon. If he ever returns he will be treated like a hero after the fantastic long-range goals and his numerous energetic displays in the Rave Green.

7. Javier Morales

This man was the heart and soul of the Real Salt Lake side that won MLS Cup ’09. Jason Kreis built RSL around Morales’ talents and even today the Argentinian magician can change a game in an instance. That horrible injury suffered after a tackle with Marcos Mondaini has slowed him down, but Morales’s impact on RSL and MLS has been incredible.

8. Juan Pablo Angel

Goals, goals, goals. When he first arrived at the New York Red Bulls from Aston Villa, Angel instantly became a legend in the Big Apple. After four stellar seasons in New York with goals galore, Angel moved onto LA and then Chivas USA with varying degrees of success. But the Colombian forward grabbed 62 goals in 113 games in MLS. A true poacher who was loved by the fans.

9. Alvaro Saborio

Again, another player who just loves to score. The Costa Rican international is currently one of the deadliest forwards in MLS and can frighten the life out of most defenses with his combination of pace and power and supreme finishing ability. Saborio, 31, arrived in 2007 and has scored 44 goals in 87 games for RSL since. Stunning.

10. Cuauhtémoc Blanco

In terms of his play on the field, Blanco was up and down like a yo-yo. But the Mexican international brought a certain star quality to Chicago. His skills and goals were a sight to behold, but unfortunately he couldn’t bring an MLS Cup to the Fire and the team didn’t excel when he was around. And to go along with his great talent on the pitch, Blanco was a huge success at helping supporter numbers grow in Chicago. The Mexican star entertained and Hispanic fans turned their attention to MLS when he arrived.

Where does Clint fit in?

If Dempsey comes in and the Sounders win MLS Cup this year, more from Steve Davis on that later, then Deuce instantly jumps into the top five DPs all-time in MLS. But regardless of whether or not he helps bring a championship to CenturyLink, Dempsey’s arrival will be huge in terms of viewer numbers and raising the profile of the domestic league. To have the USMNT’s captain spearheading the league’s best supported franchise is massive.

Should Dempsey recreate the form he has shown for the USA, Fulham and New England in the past, he could edge into the top three and rival Beckham as the most important DP in the league’s history. His signing is about much more than talent. It could spark a seismic shift of US national team players moving form Europe to MLS. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see that over the coming years. Time to get to work on overtaking those legendary MLS DPs, Clint.

More: Why Clint Dempsey’s move to Seattle won’t affect the US national team

More: Official, Tottenham confirm sale of Clint Dempsey to MLS

More: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC

More: Dempsey to Seattle in $9 million move, plus $8 million salary

Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal

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After almost 22 years in charge, Arsene Wenger has called time on his Arsenal reign.

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Wenger, 68, announced on Friday that he will be leaving the Gunners at the end of the current 2017/18 campaign despite having one year remaining on his contract.

Here is the statement from Wenger in full which was posted on Arsenal’s website with the heading “Merci Arsene” taking center stage.

“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” Wenger said. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

The Frenchman is a man who revolutionized the Premier League when he arrived in 1996 and he will be remembered as a bastion of attractive, possession based soccer as his Arsenal team of the 2003/04 season, dubbed the “Invincibles,” will always be remembered for going through an entire PL season unbeaten en route to winning the title.

Wenger has won three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and seven community shield trophies during his time in charge of Arsenal, as well as leading them to 20-straight seasons finishing in the top four of the Premier League and 19 qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

That run ended last season as they finished in fifth and in the past few seasons there have been fan protests with “Wenger Out” or “Wenger In” dividing the fanbase.

However, Wenger’s tenure can end on a high in the Europa League as Arsenal face Atletico Madrid in the semifinals and he is essentially three wins away from returning Arsenal to the Champions League.

Wenger has so far managed Arsenal for 1,228 games with 704 wins in all competitions. His final game in charge will be the Europa League final in Lyon, if Arsenal get there. But his final Premier League game in charge of Arsenal will be away at Huddersfield Town on May 13.

The focus will now switch to who will take over from Wenger this summer with the likes of Diego Simeone, Carlo Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel all linked with the job.

But in the more immediate future the final few weeks of the 2017/18 campaign in England will turn into an appreciation of Wenger and all he has achieved over the last two decades in charge of Arsenal.

Reaction to Wenger’s departure from Arsenal

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Arsenal dropped a bombshell this morning as it announced manager Arden’s Wenger would step down at the end of the season.

[MORE: Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal]

This immediately sent shockwaves across the globe, and it’s been getting plenty of reaction, right from Arsenal’s Home in London to all points east, west, north and south.

Heres a look at some of the reaction to Wenger’s decision.

(more…)

Is now the right time for Wenger to leave?

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Usually in this kind of situation the first question many ask is “why now?”

But almost unanimously the response when Arsene Wenger announced Friday that he will be leaving Arsenal at the end of the season was simply: “The time is now.”

[ MORE: Who will take over from Wenger?

Wenger, 68, has spent almost 22 years not only leading Arsenal to 10 major trophies but also reshaping the way English soccer developed. The Frenchman arrived in the Premier League in 1996 and revolutionized the game with his methods on and off the pitch as he created some of the greatest teams the PL, and the game, has ever seen with the “Invincibles” and all of the fantastic players who arrived in his first 10 years in charge.

But now feels like the right time for Wenger to move on. It is fitting that the end of an era will be as classy as the man himself. I’ve been lucky enough to talk to him and ask him questions over the years and he is someone who loves the game dearly and speaks with passion and intellect about so many things.

But, above all else, he loves Arsenal.

After leading Arsenal to 20-straight seasons in the top four and 19 in the UEFA Champions League, that run ended last season and the Gunners have now had their two worst seasons under Wenger back-to-back. They have regressed and even Wenger, a man who transformed Arsenal into a team admired around the world for their attacking play, knew his time was up.

With Wenger announcing his decision to step down with one year left on his current contract, it shows that he realizes fresh impetus is needed and the job of rebuilding Arsenal is not for him to lead.

Following two years of “Wenger Out” and empty seats starting to appear at the Emirates Stadium on a regular basis, this was what had to happen for Arsenal to move on from a legendary figure who kept winning FA Cups in recent seasons (three in the last five campaigns) to keep his success ticking over.

Wenger was totally committed to the club and put his own success to one side to help Arsenal negotiate the move from Highbury to the new stadium as players were sold and he turned down some of Europe’s biggest clubs. As he said in his statement, Arsenal will have Wenger’s “love and support forever” and he should have the stadium named after him and a statue in his honor.

He will now get the sendoff he deserves in the next few weeks as English soccer pays its respects to Wenger in the final five games of the Premier League campaign before it all ends on the final day of the season at Huddersfield Town on May 13.

Hanging over all of this is the chance for Wenger to ride off into the sunset and put Arsenal back in the Champions League for next season.

With a UEFA Europa League semifinal first leg against Atletico Madrid coming up next week and the return leg on May 3, Wenger has the chance to reach a major final in Lyon on May 16 to see out his incredible time at Arsenal.

But then what?

There is talk that Wenger may remain at Arsenal in a different role and go upstairs and help the directors — he is particularly close with majority owner Stan Kroenke — but in the past he has shared his belief that he could well manage elsewhere when he left the Gunners.

The French national team? Paris Saint-Germain? Both seem like sensible options for Wenger, with perhaps the former the best fit for him. If a talented crop of players don’t deliver for Didier Deschamps this summer at the World Cup, you’d think that French Football Federation may make a managerial change.

Wenger’s legacy will be intact at Arsenal no matter what he does in the future and no matter what happens in the final weeks of this season. The sight of him struggling with a zipper on the sidelines, berating an official or smiling as he applauds another fine team goal are almost over.

The time was now for him to move on. And Wenger now leaves Arsenal in a much better place than when he took over almost 22 years ago as the Gunners will aim to get back into the top four and the Premier League title conversation with a new man at the helm.

Arsene Wenger and Arsenal will always be inextricably intertwined but he has made the right call at the right time. His class remains.

Merci, Arsene.

Who are the favorites to take over at Arsenal?

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With Arsene Wenger announcing he will leave Arsenal at the end of the current season, the immediate focus switches to who will take charge of the Gunners beyond this season after almost 22 years of Wenger.

The bookmakers are having a field day slashing the odds of several managers previously linked with the job with nobody really knowing what direction Arsenal’s board will go with their next appointment.

Will they appoint an experienced manager? Or will it be a young coach with a fresh outlook a la Wenger back in 1996?

Here’s a look at the main contenders, according to Oddschecker.


Patrick Vieira (4/1) – Wenger spoke on Thursday about how Vieira has the potential to manage Arsenal but did mention now may be too early. The NYCFC manager has done a fine job in MLS but will Arsenal really hand the reins to their former captain and midfield general? Vieira’s appointment would be welcomed by fans who idolized him but maybe he is the man who should follow the man who replaces Wenger. That said, he is the early favorite to take charge of Arsenal.

Thomas Tuchel (5/1) – Out of work for 12 months, it was heavily reported that Tuchel had agreed to take charge of Arsenal a few months ago. The German coach did well at Borussia Dortmund as they won the German Cup and got the latter stages of the Champions League and he is known for giving youngsters a chance to shine. This would make a lot of sense given Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, his former players at Dortmund, arriving at Arsenal in January and the likes of Mesut Ozil around.

Joachim Loew (7/1) – Although the German national team manager has a contract through the 2020 European Championships, later this summer, after the 2018 World Cup, could be the time when Loew steps down from the German national team. He has built a World Cup-winning squad and may feel like he has done everything he can with Die Mannschaft. Loew hasn’t had experience of coaching a club on a day-to-day basis and that may be something which will concern Arsenal’s board.

Brendan Rodgers (7/1) – The odds have been slashed on Celtic’s manager taking charge of Arsenal. The former Liverpool manager (who came so close to winning the Premier League title in 2013/14) has certainly rebuilt his reputation at Celtic and we all know that Rodgers loves to play an attacking style. That fits in seamlessly with what Wenger has built at Arsenal, but would Rodgers’ appointment excite the Arsenal fans? Probably not. Also, with Rodgers known for his teams struggling defensively, there’s a sense that he will just be another Wenger and little progress will be made.

Massimiliano Allegri (10/1) – The Juventus manager is being linked with Chelsea and Arsenal this summer and it is easy to understand why. Allegri has led Juve to three-straight Italian doubles with a solid defensive approach, something Arsenal need more emphasis on if they’re going to make it back to the top four. Allegri has also reached the UEFA Champions League final in two of the three seasons. Seems like it would be a good appointment to improve Arsenal’s defensive unit and play.

Carlo Ancelotti (10/1) – The veteran Italian manager has won everything and he has won it everywhere but he usually takes over established teams with stars delivering. That’s not the case at Arsenal right now. Ancelotti has delivered success at AC Milan, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but he will have to be trusted with a lot of cash to rebuild this Arsenal squad. The former Chelsea manager certainly knows the Premier League well after winning the title and the FA Cup in 2010, so there are no problems there.