We’ve had the weekend and a manic Monday to contemplate all of this.
One more time: Clint Dempsey is a Seattle Sounders player.
That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
But his arrival has thrown up so many questions since it happened, that we haven’t really had time to sit back and figure out what this all means.
Transfer fee transparency, LA and Toronto, multiple press conferences and other MLS clubs egos aside, is signing Dempsey the biggest shock in the league’s 18-year history?
It has to be. Even the arrival of David Beckham and Thierry Henry didn’t surprise us this much.
What makes it more shocking is that the move comes after Jurgen Klinsmann has repeatedly said he wants his best players to play in Europe and jokingly called Dempsey out for not playing in the UEFA Champions League. Now he finds the USMNT captain as the new face of MLS.
That’s what Deuce is. Forget Henry or Landon Donovan as the player that epitomizes MLS. Dempsey is now your man.
To have that sprung upon us in the past few days has been almost too much to handle for US fans and media outlets. When we confirmed the story on Friday evening after many, many discussions behind the scenes, trying to get to the bottom of this transfer took a while.
The initial question on the mind of everyone was about whether or not this was a good or bad move for Clint.
I think we saw from yesterday’s press conference that this move was very much about his young family. We are talking about a player who left the USA in his early 20s to compete in one of Europe’s top leagues. He has now returned to the USA and is ready to live in his homeland once again. He’s happy to be back in MLS. Most people are happy to have him back.
But the fact Deuce actually made it back surprises me.
Obviously Adrian Hanauer and Joe Roth were working hard behind the scenes for a few weeks to get this all in place, from about July 20. But to have Dempsey agree to all this really surprised me. The likes of Alexi Lalas, John Harkes and Tab Ramos gave up their careers in Europe to help build and grow MLS in 1996. Is Dempsey doing the same to take MLS to the next level? Well, he’s getting paid a handsome sum of money to do it, so let’s not make him out to be some kind of sacrificial lamb.
However, does the transfer show a lack of ambition or drive from Deuce?
Following yesterday’s press conference where Dempsey spoke alongside Hanauer and Sigi Schmid, there was much talk of how Seattle have been ambitiously chasing Dempsey’s signature since 2010. If the Sounders would have pulled that off then, it would have been a huge coup. But now it’s arguably bigger.
Ahead of the World Cup in 2014, Dempsey will be playing his soccer in MLS. He is still in the late prime of his career and was expected to play in Europe for at least another two or three seasons. At least. His capture signifies the direction in which the league is going: up.
When Beckham, Henry, Robbie Keane or any of the other big name players have arrived in MLS during recent seasons, there’s been euphoria and excitement. But nothing quite like the return of Deuce.
Shocking. Sensational. Fantastic. Any superlative you want doesn’t do the rigmarole of #DempseyWatch justice. Seeing this all unfold was a unique experience, US soccer fans may never see their national team captain prefer MLS over the Premier League again.
The shock of Dempsey’s arrival still hasn’t properly dissipated. Give it time. Deuce wearing Rave Green this Saturday in Toronto will properly announce, once and for all, that the biggest transfer shock in the league’s history has indeed happened.
In case you’re struggling to wrap your head around it all, below is Dempsey’s introductory press conference from yesterday in full. Seeing is believing.