Another match has come and gone at Fulham, another one with big Premier League implications … and yet another one with no sight of Clint Dempsey.
Yet again, the struggling U.S. international did not make the 18-man game-day roster for, this time for a new manager as debuting boss Felix Magath. That’s three in a row with Dempsey nowhere to be seen.
Magath is well within his right to do what he thinks best for Fulham; the Cottagers, a small-budget club that has worked virtual miracles by remaining in the land’s highest division year after year lately, has big work ahead to remain so once again. There is no room for error – nor for worrying about any one player’s personal plight.
But here’s the deal as it relates to Dempsey:
We discovered recently that his loan agreement between Fulham, MLS and the Seattle Sounders allows the U.S. attacker to remain in London through the first day of March; Fulham hosts Chelsea in a West London derby a week from today, so he would presumably be available.
It’s a huge match for the clubs who share the fashionable, tony West London neighborhood; their grounds are separated by about a 20-minute walk – and a nice 20-minute walk, at that.
But never mind that; Dempsey should be on the next plane out of Heathrow.
It’s no longer time to worry about whether this loan has “worked” or “hasn’t worked” or whatever for Dempsey. Far more important, and the bottom line here: He’s a peripheral figure at very best around Craven Cottage and, at this point, Dempsey will be no key figure in whether Fulham survives to relegation beast.
It’s time for him to fulfil his much larger club obligation the one to Seattle.
He’s still the league’s second-highest paid player, and easily the top dog, wage-wise, around Century Link Field. That should count for a lot in the calculus here.
Calling it a day around Craven Cottage and getting back here isn’t just about the practical element that is all too clear: he’d be doing pretty much the same thing in London or in the States, training rather than playing (which is why Dempsey went abroad for the two-month spell, for the chance to play in high-level matches).
It’s also about reminding his Sounders teammates that Seattle – and a big year around the ground, especially for embattled manager Sigi Schmid – is his top priority in terms of club pursuits.
Let’s not forget, Dempsey will miss a bunch of time in May and June, at least six weeks, while on World Cup duty.
It’s too bad this loan spell didn’t work out as everyone would have liked … it’s time to tie this one off and get back into the team that is paying him so handsomely to be a main-man mainstay.