Michael Steele/Getty Images

Clint Dempsey was the greatest USMNT player of his generation

4 Comments

His career began with a bang at the old Giants Stadium, and from that moment forward Clint Dempsey‘s time as a professional only skyrocketed him into U.S. Men’s National Team stardom.

[ MORE: Dempsey announces retirement after 15-year career ]

When Dempsey (21 years old at the time) scored his first Major League Soccer goal back in 2004 against the then-New York/New Jersey MetroStars, it was only a sign of things to come.

At this time, it was my first time seeing Dempsey in person during his rookie season, and with the falling side-volley finish that he put past MetroStars goalkeeper Jonny Walker it was inevitable that the Texas-born goalscorer was headed for greatness.

Dempsey’s career has had many layers since that chilly night in East Rutherford, and while his humble beginnings are a large part of the player that grew on U.S. soccer fans for the better part of 15 years, that doesn’t tell the whole story of Dempsey.

He was the ultimate mix of skill and passion, being able to facilitate goals for his teammates, while being even more well known for scoring some of the most exquisite chances of his own.

Although the accolades that he has accumulated throughout the years are remarkable, Dempsey’s time in MLS and Europe, as well as with the USMNT, have been about singular moments that have made him the greatest player in U.S. Soccer history.

It was his goal against England in the 2010 World Cup that gave the Americans life in their group-stage opener.

It was goals against Ghana and Portugal during the 2014 World Cup that led to him becoming the first American to score in three separate World Cups.

Dempsey’s career was about the turmoil and drive for success, even in negative moments, like the 2015 U.S. Open Cup, which ultimately cost him captaincy of the USMNT.

In a moment where a lot of players would simply lay down and accept failure, Dempsey guided the U.S. to fourth in the Copa America Centenario, the first time the tournament was held on American soil.

On the club level, the 35-year-old wasn’t the first American player to move to Europe, and won’t be the last, but Dempsey dared to be great in England with the likes of Fulham and Tottenham, and succeeded at some of the highest levels and improved on a year-to-year basis with the clubs.

He scored against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League, while dazzling against European giants Juventus in the UEFA Europa League with one of the more audaciously brilliant goals any player could execute.

And when he was done lighting up Europe, Dempsey came back to MLS despite criticism over the timing of the move.

His time with the Seattle Sounders not only put the club on the map as one of the hotbeds for soccer in America, with an organization that regularly outdraws almost every other MLS city, but Dempsey helped deliver the team their first MLS Cup in 2016, despite battling a heart condition.

It was that heart ailment that led to the final chapter of his playing career, but once again, even after Dempsey was seemingly down for the count, he rose again in 2017 when he scored 12 goals and guided the Sounders back to MLS Cup, only to fall to a star-studded Toronto FC.

Dempsey won’t be the last great American soccer player. That’s for certain, especially with Christian Pulisic and others on the come up as they aim to revive the USMNT.

However, in a time where he shared the pitch with Landon Donovan, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and many others, Dempsey was the best USMNT player of his generation.

Luis Enrique to return as Spain boss five months after resigning

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Luis Enrique will be named manager of the Spanish national team on Tuesday, five months to the day after stepping down from the same position to care for his nine-year-old daughter as she battled bone cancer.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

Robert Moreno is set to step aside to make way for Enrique. Moreno was previously an assistant on Enrique’s staff and had initially been put in charge of La Roja through the 2020 European Championship.

Enrique’s daughter, Xana, passed away in late August after a five-month battle.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

Moreno managed the team during Monday’s 5-0 thrashing of Romania to complete an unbeaten EURO 2020 qualifying campaign, but the 42-year-old was seen leaving the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in tears after the game. Neither Moreno nor any of the players spoke to the media.

He previously said that he would step aside should Enrique find himself able to return. Moreno insisted that friendship came first, above all else.

Preview: USMNT’s must-win Nations League finale v. Cuba

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The scenario is simple for the U.S. men’s national team ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Cuba (7:30 p.m.ET): Gregg Berhalter’s side will finish top of Group A with a victory, and only a victory. Period. It’s as simple as that.

[ MORE: Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video) ]

Friday’s victory over Canada righted the wrongs of last month’s defeat north of the border and laid the foundation for the Americans to reach the semifinals in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League, provided they take care of business in George Town, Cayman Islands, in what is set to be the final game of Berhalter’s first calendar year in charge. Despite trailing Canada (+6 goal differential)  by three points heading into Friday, the Yanks (+8) already have the tiebreaker in their favor.

Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes (twice) and Aaron Long scored to give the USMNT its 4-1 triumph over their northern neighbors. More importantly, it was a largely dominant display after going 1-0 up inside two minutes and carrying a 3-0 led into halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

The USMNT will once again be without Christian Pulisic (hip injury), leaving the attacking options on the roster quite thin. Morris, who got a goal and an assist against Canada, will likely start on the left again, with Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola playing centrally and on the right respectively. Zardes is the presumed starter up top, unless Berhalter opts for the youthful inexperience of Josh Sargent in a must-win game.

Berhalter appears to have settled on a pretty consistent backline, with Sergiño Dest and Aaron Long manning the right side and John Brooks and, at least on Friday, Tim Ream on the left. Weston McKennie’s place deep in midfield has been cemented for quite some time, but he’s partnered close to a half-dozen players alongside him this year alone. The 21-year-old Schalke midfielder was stellar against Canada, frequently starting counter-attacks and carrying the ball into the final third.

Projected USMNT lineup

I___________I
Guzan

Dest —— Long —— Brooks —— Ream

McKennie —— Roldan

Arriola —— Lletget —— Morris

Zardes

Man Utd debt climbs to $500m as club spends to halt decline

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United’s attempt to strengthen its underperforming squad has proved costly with debt rising more than 55 percent in a year to $498 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Season so far ]

The cost of signing Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James ahead of the new season in the first quarter of the financial year was around 140 million pounds.

Although United reported record revenue last season of $812 million, the New York Stock Exchange listed business is now expecting the 2019-20 figure to drop to between $725 million and $750 million.

That is due to United missing out on Champions League television and prize money after finishing sixth last season. United could miss out again with the side in seventh place, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City after 12 of the 38 games.

[ MORE: Van Dijk leaves Netherlands squad for “personal reasons” ]

“Our ultimate aim is to win trophies, play fast, fluid, attacking football, with a team that uses graduates from our academy along with world-class acquisitions,” United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said. “We know this will not be achieved overnight, however we have made investments across the club that we believe will set us on the right path.

“We know our academy is a strong competitive advantage and an area we will continue to invest in as it is at the heart of the club.”

EURO 2020: Spain, Sweden finish top; Norway, Romania reach playoffs

Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID — Spain finished its qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a 5-0 rout of Romania in what could have been the farewell match for coach Robert Moreno on Monday.

Moreno did not show for the post-match interview and there were widespread reports in Spanish media he would not continue at the helm of “La Roja.”

The Spanish soccer federation did not immediately say why the coach did not talk to the media. It said a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday.

Moreno took over the job after Luis Enrique resigned in March to take care of his sick daughter. Moreno had been Luis Enrique’s assistant until then.

Gerard Moreno scored twice for the hosts, who had already secured a spot in the tournament but needed the victory to be among the top-seeded teams in the draw this month.

Spain also got on the scoreboard through Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, and an own-goal by Romanian defender Adrian Rus.

“It was important to finish with the three points in front of our crowd,” said Ruiz, who scored his first goal with the national team. “We need to keep this same dynamic going into the Euros next year.”

Spain ended as the Group F winner with eight wins and two draws, at Norway and Sweden. “La Roja” finished five points in front of second-placed Sweden.

Romania, which had already been eliminated, ended in fourth place with four victories and two draws in 10 matches.

Spain, coming off routing Malta 7-0 in Cadiz, outscored its opponents 31-5.

It was in control from the start on Monday, with Romania threatening only a few times in front of a crowd of 36,198 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, including many Romanians.

Ruiz opened the scoring from close range in the eighth minute, and Moreno added his goals with a header in the 33rd and strike from the six-yard line in the 43rd.

Rus found his own net while trying to intercept a cross into the area in first-half stoppage time, and Oyarzabal closed the scoring with a left-footed shot from outside the box in second-half injury time.

It was the second Spain match at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium, the other a 6-1 rout of Argentina ahead of last year’s World Cup.