Tag Archives: Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey’s Return to the US: Good or Bad for American Soccer?

Yesterday, my favorite European club Tottenham Hotspur (who I covered here) announced that American striker/midfielder Clint Dempsey would be transfered to Seattle Sounders of MLS. Deuce (BTW best nickname in sports?) spent only one year in North London, after moving there from Fulham last summer. Dempsey never seemed like the first choice in Andre Villas Boas’ Spurs squad, so in order to become the star man again like he was at Fulham, he decided to take his talents to the Pacific Northwest. And as much as I love MLS, I must say that this move is a step back for Dempsey.

Last year, when Dempsey demanded to leave Fulham, he said that he wanted to move to a Champions League club. He was certainly good enough to do so: in the 2011-2012 season, Dempsey scored 23 goals for the West London side, smashing American scoring records in the process. However, no English team in the Champions League wanted him that badly, so Deuce settled on a move to Spurs after they beat Liverpool to the chase. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fire Spurs into the Champions League, and his playing time decreased as the season went along. Now, after Spurs signed Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli, it seemed as if Deuce was being frozen out at White Hart Lane. So Dempsey decided to return home to the United States.

But while this was a great move for MLS, Dempsey’s transfer may hurt the American soccer community at large. Dempsey was by far the best-known American playing in Europe. Many people will see this move as Dempsey admitting he isn’t good enough to cut it for a top European team.

Another important factor when assessing the transfer is the US National Team. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann can’t be happy that his best player has left a higher quality league to move back home. However, if Dempsey wasn’t going to be a sure starter with Spurs, then it could turn out to be a good idea that Dempsey will get more minutes. Clint immediately turns into one of the 5 best players in MLS. Before a World Cup, Klinsmann needs all of his key players getting starters’ minutes no matter where they are playing, from Michael Bradley at Roma to Dempsey in Seattle.

And, finally, this move is huge for MLS. They were able to bring back a player still in his prime, one adored across the country. MLS is still establishing itself in the global soccer ecosystem. It can only help the league’s reputation that teams are bringing in established players. So while, this may seem as a bad move personally for Deuce (although not financially: he will receive $8 million a year in Seattle), overall this is a good move for American soccer.

Stu Holden’s Latest Setback, And What It May Mean For the US Soccer Team

Today, during the Gold Cup final which the US won, 1-0, over a resilient Panama team (a recap will be coming your way later), talented center midfielder Stu Holden went down to injury. Again. Holden reportedly suffered a sprain to his right knee. The biggest shame of recent times for the USMNT has been Holden’s persistent injury problems. Holden has not played significant minutes for his club side, Bolton Wanderers in England, since the spring of 2011, as he has battled major knee injures, from an ACL tear (which I am actually recovering from right now, so I know how painful it is and how grueling the 9-month rehab period is) to microfracture surgery to repair torn cartilage.

The US missed Holden dearly during his time on the sidelines. Holden is the rare American player who is completely comfortable in possession, and he is capable of impacting the game both offensively and defensively. He demonstrated when he returned from his injury nightmare that he can still be the same player.

Luckily for the US, central midfield is one of their deepest positions. Michael Bradley, the engine room for a quality Roma side, and Jermaine Jones, a bruiser from German club Shalke, man the two starting positions in Jurgen Klinsmann’s team. And Landon Donovan has shown that he is more than capable of playing alongside Clint Dempsey as a more attacking midfielder. However, Holden could have proved a vital addition to the squad during the World Cup next summer. Playing him instead of Jones would allow Bradley to become more defensive while still using his ball retention skills to great effect. The US side would become much more attractive with those two sitting behind Donovan in midfield, and Holden could replace most of Jones’ defense physicality while adding his own passing signature. Now, after Klinsmann said after the game that “It’s not looking good for Stu”, it is safe to assume that Holden’s injury to his knee is more serious than the sprain that was originally reported. For such a class act (he even won the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year Award in MLS) this latest setback can only be classified as a shame.