Getty Images

USMNT legend Clint Dempsey honored by Fulham

Leave a comment

Fulhamerica is still going strong.

After announcing his retirement in August, U.S. men’s national team legend Clint Dempsey has been lauded for his contribution to the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Fulham Football Club were the latest to celebrate the Nacogdoches, Texas native, with Dempsey, 35, coming onto the pitch at half time of their Premier League clash with Watford on Saturday.

Dempsey played for the Cottagers from 2007-12 and scored 60 in 232 appearances in all competitions. He led Fulham to the final of the UEFA Europa League in 2009-10 where they lost to Atletico Madrid after extra time. Dempsey scored more Premier League goals than any other Fulham player and any other American in PL history.

His status as a Fulham legend remains, with their current American owner, Shahid Khan, cementing the American connection, plus Tim Ream and Luca De La Torre in the first team squad continue the strong U.S. link for the Cottagers.

The forward was appreciative of the welcome he received back in west London. Take a look at the scene as Dempsey was celebrated at the Cottage.

Clint Dempsey was the greatest USMNT player of his generation

Michael Steele/Getty Images
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.

Top 10 goals in Clint Dempsey’s career

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clint Dempsey announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a record-breaking career both in the U.S. and in the Premier League.

Over his 15-year career, Dempsey has scored a lot of goals. Around 211 to be exact in officials matches for the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, the Seattle Sounders and of course, the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Let’s take a look back at our favorite ten goals from Dempsey’s career, in descending order from 10.

(more…)

Clint Dempsey announces retirement after stellar 15-year career

Getty Images
3 Comments

It’s the end of an era for the Seattle Sounders, U.S. Men’s National Team and soccer as a whole in the United States.

Clint Dempsey announced Wednesday that he has retired after a 15-year professional career, which included stops at Fulham and Tottenham in the Premier League. Little did many know when the New England Revolution draft the Nacagdoches, Texas native with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft that he would go on to become one of, if not the best American striker in history.

[A LOOK BACK: Dempsey wins 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year]

“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” said Dempsey. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
In addition to scoring 57 Premier League goals between Fulham and Tottenham, Dempsey finishes his career tied for first place in the USMNT scoring department with former teammate Landon Donovan at 57 goals. Dempsey’s 141 caps is third all time and 21 assists is tied for fourth-most all time.
After being drafted, Dempsey was an instant sensation, starting 26 times and scoring seven goals with two assists to help take the Revolution to the Eastern Conference finals. Dempsey’s career extended all the way back to that of Taylor Twellman, a former teammate, as well as his coach, former Liverpool great Steve Nicol.
After two more solid years with the Revolution, Dempsey made the decision to move abroad, joining Fulham for a reported $4 million, at the time the highest transfer fee for an American player, and he added to the American flavor at the club, which already had Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra in the squad.
After a slow start in his first half-season, Dempsey went on to be a reliable starter up top, scoring six, six, and seven goals in his first three full Premier League seasons. He scored 12 league goals in 2010-2011 and exploded a year later with 23 goals in all competitions. With his value at his highest, Dempsey essentially held out from preseason training for Fulham, asking to move to a bigger club.
Dempsey finally got that move in 2012, moving to Tottenham. Alas, with seven goals in 29 appearances, Dempsey was never able to break into the first team as the main starter.
Around this time, Dempsey took advantage of MLS clubs realizing it could spend big, Designated Player dollars on Americans, and Dempsey followed national team teammates Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley in returning from Europe to the league they came up in.
Dempsey’s move to the Seattle Sounders attracted an incredible amount of local media attention, and fans even greeted him at the airport.
Dempsey went on to score 53 goals as the talisman up top for the Sounders, leading the club to an improbable MLS Cup title in 2016 and a return to the final in 2017.
At the height of his time in Europe, Dempsey was also becoming a star for the USMNT. The striker made his first USMNT appearance in 2005 and went on to be the first USMNT player to score in three World Cups, beginning in 2006 and finishing as he captained his nation in 2014, scoring in the opening minute in the USA’s first game in Brazil against Ghana.
The no-nonsense Dempsey had plenty of memorable goals and moments in big USMNT matches, against hated rivals such as Mexico and a famous goal in a 1-0 win at Italy.
Deuce will surely go down in history as one of the best players to ever play the game, and perhaps even more impressive was his comeback after a heart condition forced him off the field in 2016, forcing him to miss the tail end of the Sounders’ magical run to the MLS Cup title. Dempsey returned in six months, beating the odds, and played another 18 months before he decided to call it quits.

This story will be updated. 

The Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” is infuriating

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Let’s get this out of the way: The National Soccer Hall of Fame’s “Essential XI” ballot — vote today! –will make you want to massage a mannequin made of broken glass.

That’s not because the XI isn’t fun, or the NSHOF won’t be amazing, but because choosing the members of this particular 3-4-3 is improbably difficult.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season preview ]

I’ve filled out the XI a bunch of times, and not once have I felt good with my picks. Even the positions which seem clear cut… just… aren’t.

There’s one tip I’d give anyone considering their ballot: DO NOT choose a foreign player who played in the old NASL or an import who spent the waning days of his career in a nascent MLS.

Franz Beckenbauer and David Beckham definitely deserve credit for their contributions to American soccer, but having one of them pop up in an all-time XI would be an embarrassment in my — and I’m assuming many others’ — eyes.

Also, don’t do the write-in… the candidate won’t win (I made an XI of Josh Wolffs, anyway).

So here are the main options I wrestle with when I look at the nominees. Having men and women in the same XI is also a headache given the USWNT’s success.

Goalkeepers

Brad Friedel
Frank Borghi
Hope Solo
Nick Rimando
Tony Meola
Kasey Keller
Brianna Scurry
Mary Harvey
Tim Howard

Respect to all of these players, but it’s hard not to immediately strip this to Keller versus Howard (with Friedel in third, which is insane given our soccer culture). There’s recency bias here, I’m sure, but Howard’s success with Manchester United and then at Everton, holding the No. 1 chair for 10 seasons? That’s nuts. Keller’s career is nearly as amazing, and his performance against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup is close to Howard vs. Belgium in 2014. Brutal choice.

Ultimately I went with… Howard.

Defenders

Franz Beckenbauer
Harry Keough
Alexi Lalas
Marcelo Balboa
Christie Pearce Rampone
Steve Cherundolo
Carla Overbeck
Paul Caligiuri
Carlos Bocanegra
Brandi Chastain
Joy Fawcett
Kate Markgraf

Let me say this first, as a (horrible) forward, for some reason my favorite players were always backs. Bocanegra and Cherundolo are in my Top Three USMNT players of all-time. That said, it’s impossible to avoid Chastain’s status of holding the most iconic moment in U.S. Soccer history (It is called a Hall of Fame, after all), and Rampone held her position through one of the most competitive times in USWNT history. Keough gets the nod for his status on a legendary USMNT team and a storied career in coaching, too. He’s an architect.

Ultimately I went with… Keough, Chastain, Pierce-Rampone.

Midfielders

Walter Bahr
Michael Bradley
DaMarcus Beasley
Heather O’Reilly
Megan Rapinoe
Cobi Jones
Kristine Lilly
Carli Lloyd
Earnie Stewart
Julie Foudy
Tab Ramos
Claudio Reyna
David Beckham
John Harkes

First off, you have to include Lilly. She owns 354 caps and scored 130 goals, the latter of which is insane for a midfielder.

Now if you include Foudy, Rapinoe, Bahr, or Harkes — the latter’s omission perhaps the most egregious — you’ll have to exclude three absolute icons of the American men’s game.

Cobi Jones is the USMNT’s all-time caps leader, and his record is safe for some time. His iconic dreadlocks also just trump Alexi Lalas as the top look in U.S. Soccer (apologies to all the bald GKs and Bradley).

To me, Reyna and Bradley are similar players, generals, and trendsetters. Given the World Cup qualifying failure of the 2018 cycle, there’s a temptation to look past Bradley but that’s asinine. He’s got 140 caps, 17 goals, memorable goals at Azteca and in a qualifier’s qualifier against Costa Rica. And Donovan against Algeria doesn’t happen if Bradley doesn’t equalize against Slovenia. This doesn’t include his exploits at Roma, Gladbach, and Toronto FC. He’s really good.

Reyna won three NCAA championships under Bruce Arena at Virginia, earned 112 caps for the USMNT, and opened doors for Americans in Germany and Scotland (winning a double at the latter) in addition to becoming a fixture for Man City, making a World Cup Best XI, and winning the freaking Hermann Trophy.

All this leaves out Earnie Stewart and a two-time women’s World Player of the Year in Lloyd. Wow.

Ultimately I went with… Jones, Lilly, Reyna, Bradley.

Forwards

Landon Donovan
Carin Jennings-Gabarra
Tiffeny Milbrett
Abby Wambach
Cindy Parlow-Cone
Eric Wynalda
Alex Morgan
Michelle Akers
Jozy Altidore
Brian McBride
Clint Dempsey
Giorgio Chinaglia
Mia Hamm
Pele

This one feels reason enough to demand separate XIs for the USMNT and USWNT. In order to include a male, you need to ditch either Abby Wambach, Michelle Akers, or Mia Hamm. You have to exclude two of those to get both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the XI!!

Hamm scored 158 goals (second all-time) and 145 assists (first) in 276 caps. Even given the investment in American women’s soccer compared the rest of the world, that’s absurd. Akers scored 107 times in just 155 caps. That’s insane. Wambach, as dominant as she was, doesn’t touch that.

Which pretty much brings us to Donovan or Dempsey (Sorry, Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride). For me, the level of success Dempsey found as a flame-holder for American soccer in England tips the scales for me. He’s scored the same amount of goals in 16 less caps, though Donovan torches him in assists. If you forced me to take Donovan over Dempsey, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

Ultimately I went with… Hamm, Dempsey, Akers