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

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

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Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

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The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.