Let’s just call this what it is:
Clint Dempsey is having the best year in the history of the world.
Or maybe it just seems that way sometime. He struck for another one yesterday, which adds up to 22, assuming the EPL bean counters don’t go back and officially record his header against Chelsea as an “own goal.” It did take a quick deflection off Blues defender Gary Cahill.
Here’s what you should know about Monday’s performance: Dempsey was in his third-best spot on the field.
For much of his time at Craven Cottage, the Texan and former New England Revolution man was stationed as a left-sided midfielder. He always had license to roam inside, unconfined to a strict role as a winger. The point is, he operated out of Fulham’s midfield, and he was adept at all the requisite skills, the tackling and tracking, along with moving the ball along competently in possession while always managing to remain dangerous near goal.
This year Dempsey has spent more time for Fulham as a second striker, playing behind a target man. It’s a freer role in terms of defensive responsibility. And it gets the man nearer to goal; for a lot of years, one coaching theory regarding Dempsey has maintained that the closer you get him to goal, the better.
But that only goes so far. Because he’s probably not a target man. Not ideally, anyway.
He can clearly play the position. Just like yesterday. Injuries and other circumstances had Dempsey at the tip of the spear.
Again, not his best spot. But, as this is clearly Dempsey’s year, it worked out in the end. His late header allowed Fulham to split the points with its West London neighbor.