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Clint Dempsey Should Be Dropped: Really?

dempsey ghana goal Clint Dempsey Should Be Dropped: Really?

The chattering from the American peanut gallery is that Clint Dempsey should be permanently dropped. The theory is that Dempsey doesn’t give a proper effort and has held the US team back.

So the fans who advocate the permanent benching of Dempsey are comfortable:

  • Dropping the only American to score in World Cup 2006
  • The only American field player, who is a standout player for a European club side of some note.
  • The only USMNT player who has proven he can score critical goals in critical games against the best teams in the world, during the run of play.

Only Clint Dempsey has scored goals against Spain, England, Ghana and Brazil in his career.

While some US fans may be taken with the exciting performances by Stuart Holden versus CONCACAF opposition, Holden is yet to prove he can have anything remotely resembling Dempsey’s impact against sides that will actually qualify for the World Cup next year.

I like Stuart Holden as a reserve that can bring some energy or tactical change off of the bench late in matches. However, if a player of Holden’s obvious limitations and lack of seasoning were to start in a World Cup, we would just be demonstrating how limited the US talent pool is, and how little imagination and creativity we tolerate.

Holden is a good wide player, and he does fit Bradley’s system. But he is still very raw, and makes the mistakes typical of an MLS player who has not truly faced many daunting matches on the club level. Holden’s two critical mistakes late against Holland in last summer’s Olympic Tournament cost the US advancement to the next round. While Holden has certainly matured since then, he still not a sharp enough, seasoned enough footballer to be counted on to provide what Dempsey can bring.

Dempsey, on the other hand does things that other American players don’t do. His runs off the ball are daring, and timely. He has an ability to take players on, and make them miss. Much of Dempsey’s frustration or indifferent performances for the US versus CONCACAF opposition, I believe reflect on the fact that players that surround him don’t do the things his team mates at Fulham do.

From Dempsey’s vantage point, his teammates for the US team are probably often poorly positioned, playing too wide, and not making the type of attacking, diagonal runs you see Roy Hodgson’s side make all the time in Premier League play. One current US player who has the vision and imagination of Dempsey and matches it, is Jonathan Spector. That’s why you saw the two develop a connection in the Confederations Cup.

While European club experience and form is not the simple prerequisite for international success (if it were Honduras would not be trailing Costa Rica in the Hex table), it has to count for something. The American backline against Honduras was severely tested going up against European club players, and the poor play from the two holding mids and left back Jonathan Bornstein can be attributed to a lack of experience or composure against better attacking players. So European club success does count for something, and Dempsey has it more than any other current US field player.

Let me address something else. For many months and perhaps years now, there has been some sort of desire or dare I say, an agenda to tear down Clint Dempsey among certain US supporters. I am not sure if has to do with envy over Dempsey’s European club success, anger at his harsh words for MLS, or lack of comfort with his personality and background.

Whether it is all of the above, or none of the above it is painfully obvious to me that Dempsey is being judged on a different and more critical standard than any other US player. That is flat out wrong, and shows that still American supporters have a lot of growing up to do when they analyze the world game.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC. View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →
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28 Responses to Clint Dempsey Should Be Dropped: Really?

  1. jgm says:

    No one can question Dempsey’s talent, but you can question his lack of effort during some games. The first two games of last summers Confed Cup for example, against world powers Italy and Brazil. If he pulls that lazy crap during any game of the next World Cup, then ,yes he should be dropped permanently! But it will probably be too late by then.

  2. Chris B says:

    I don’t really get the drop Dempsey talk but I agree wholeheartedly that Dempsey plays poorly for the US more often than not. Besides the points that jgm points out I would like to add the giveaway during the first Honduras game where Dempsey was hotdogging, got stripped, which led to the Honduras goal.
    It is that type of play along with his dour mood when playing for the Nats that I assume pisses people off. I am a Revs fan and will always love Dempsey for his time but he was a “FIND” by Nicol and the Revs staff. He wouldn’t be at Fulham if not for MLS so that does get to me a bit.
    Overall, I say Keep Clint but maybe, just maybe, it is good for him and the team to have him realize that he is not automatic and might have to play more within the system. Kartik, I never saw Mcbride act petulently because the Nats didn’t play like Fulham!

  3. Jimmy says:

    Who ever said to bench Clint Dempsey plz go jump off a bridge because benching our most skilled player is like committing suicide.. Dempsey is the one player on the team who can provide a spark or a touch of brilliance when things aren’t going the US’s way.. Dempsey is the man and will rise to the challenge in South Africa, mark my words

  4. Gunner says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this post. The criticism of Dempsey is absurd, and without merit. He’s the only one on the team that isn’t afraid to take someone on, and is always scoring big goals for the team. Idiots like Harkes criticize him nonstop on ESPN which is where so many people get their ideas and that is a shame. If we drop Dempsey we’ll be out the WC so quick it won’t be funny.

    • Kevin_Amold says:

      I disagree. CRITICISM of Dempsey is with merit. But calling for him to be dropped? It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a brilliant result with him out of the lineup. No one I know is clamoring for his not to be included.

      HIs dour mood DOES piss me off occasionally. I love clint (COYW), but I don’t always love him with the MNT.

    • ryan says:

      the criticism he takes is deserved. his play is outstanding at times, and incredibly lacking at times. he scores some big goals for us no doubt, and i don’t want to see him benched/dropped at all, that’s retarded. but he isn’t as good as you guys are making him out to be, and until he starts showing it (idc how good he does on club level, as long as it doesn’t translate to national team level). and until he does that consistently i will have to disagree with this post immensely. i’d love to see him succeed with the us, and i hope he starts and starts scoring some goals for us in the WC

  5. Sponge Worthy says:

    I wouldn’t call the critisism of Dempsey totally absurd or totally without merit, but suggesting he should be dropped is nuts nonetheless. I’m just not 100 percent sure anyone apart from anoymous posters looking to rile people up are saying this. Message boards and comment sections of blogs are more for people saying crap to get attention then a gauge of people’s real opinions.

    Or does anyone have names of people in the media or US soccer who are saying “drop Dempsey”?

  6. Kevin_Amold says:

    High profile players are ALWAYS judged on a different standard. Well, I’d say often. And they should be. Clint, as our biggest “star” at the club level, should endure some criticism when his performances aren’t up to snuff. It’s not often that he completely whiffs during an entire match, but his tendency to kill momentum has been observed by many. BUt, in a flash, he converts a half-chance and saves us. It’s enigmatic.

    • Kevin_Amold says:

      But, to be fair, he’s the best player at the position he’s being used at. He’s great, and all I want is for him to have success with the US National team.

  7. ryan says:

    here we go with dempsey biases.

    1) who cares if he scored in the 2006 world cup, the ball was perfect from beasley, he would be an idiot to miss it. also, being the only goal scorer off a perfect pass for a team who scored once during the WC, is like being the smartest person with down syndrome.
    2) ok, so he’s scored against some good teams. if you look at most all his goals, where do they come from? perfect services from his team. his goal against spain was a mishap by ramos, and spector’s crosses saved him from having a dismal confederations cup. did he manage to pop up for important goals? absolutely, has a knack for it. but mostly due to great service provided by our other players, who you criticize as being the cause of his poor play
    3) he’s lazy. he doesn’t track back on defense, his effort is lacking most all games. his attitude is spotchy at times as well.
    4) his skill is good on the ball yes, and he’s proven at times to be a deadly finisher with great aerial ability. but to say he’s our best player is ridiculous. and even more so, to say the only one who can match his vision and creativity is spector…SPECTOR???? this is a laugher, apparently you haven’t watched many matches before you wrote this. donovan can attack players and make them miss consistently, his vision is as good (and probably better) and dempsey’s, not to mention his passing creativity and speed (along with his effort) exceed dempsey’s by ten fold (and donovan doesn’t do any of that stupid fancy stuff dempsey tries to pull, and turn the ball over for a goal, see Honduras). dempsey is a very skilled players, but i think he applies it at inappropriate times sometimes.
    5) to try to play the argument of the other players around him aren’t pulling their weight and are out of position, playing poorly, etc. is ridiculous as well. you can switch the argument just as easily (and more justifiably) by saying that his laziness on defense and turnovers are like a deadweight for the rest of the team, dragging him along like a bag of rocks.

    so what if the guy plays well on club level, he doesn’t do very well (more often than not) for the US. don’t get me wrong, i like the guy, but this article is incredibly misinformed and biased, with several ridiculous statements. you are clearly a huge dempsey fan, which is fine, but to make outlandish statements like that shows that you need to do some growing up yourself. i don’t know what world you are in or what games you watch, but any other us supporter will say his game is on/off like a light switch most all the time. i’m not a basher or hater of dempsey, and i do not believe he needs to be dropped at all (those statements are absurd), he’s a great part of our team. but, he does not play up to the level you hold him at, and he’s not our best outfield player, and before you criticize the rest of the nation’s supporters, analyze your argument

  8. the big money says:

    That’s why France never won a world cup: Zinedine Zidane was like, “Compared to my teammates at Juventus, these guys suck! I’m just gonna sulk and not play.” Oh wait…

  9. Robert says:

    Saturday’s win showed that we can win without Dempsey…on the road mind you. The problem is bradley using him as a midfielder and not his natural position. He should be starting over Altidore because the kid just hasn’t done much and can’t even start at Hull.

  10. Deron says:

    a: Dempsey should not be dropped.
    b: People were tearing him down prior to leaving MLS, and he was already scoring for the national team. Same criticism, maybe, maybe not the same critics. He was good when he went to Europe in some ways he’s better now in others he’s more predictable.
    c: European success counts for doo-doo. Clint’s play with the national team provide enough sample experience to ignore where he plays. European experience is great when we have nothing else to judge, see Jermaine Jones.
    d: Holden’s providing his own sample of play with the national team. He may be the better choice in midfield. Holden’s emergence may make it possible to get Clint in front of the goal more often, where he seems to help the team the most.

  11. peter osgood says:

    It is absolutely fine to critical, and Kartik or anyone else in the media should not be shackeled by making constructive crit. As people have written above it comes with the territory of being one of US’s most visible players.

    On the same tip, people who make pointless criticism’s of Dempsey based on their own lack of understanding, and most likely based on watching him only on television should be put in their place.

    Has he been dispossed or made erroneous passes in the midfield in a few cases recently? Yes he has. Absolutely unforgiveable at this level. But those are a few mistakes that must be taken in context.

    If you’ve watched him live for the US or Fulham much at all in the past two seasons you see how tactically disciplined he’s become and is most often covering for the fullbacks and getting in passsing lanes deep in his own side of the pitch.

    Thanks to excellent reporting from the likes of Trekker, it’s true that he gets incredibly frustrated with the lack of tactics whilst training and playing for the US. This happens all over the world, England under McClaren, France under Domencech are two quick examples.

    One very good use of him that Bob figured out this summer is to move him late in the second half up top, underneath the lead striker. He’s flourished in that role, and quite frankly the side may be at their best with him starting in the hole with either Davies or Altidore – or both – whilst Holden or Torres gets a chance to blossom in the midfield.

    • sam says:

      agreed, play a 4 3 3, davies altidore with dempsey in the hole, donavan on the right, bradley playing dm, torres on the right or torres in the middle, feihaber on the left, specto boca gooch dolo howard is what we should do

      • ryan says:

        with davies out now, i’d like to see someone else paired with altidore, preferably a dynamic player up top like davies (and dempsey is not it…nor is casey). problem: we don’t really have another player other than donovan, and he’s needed in the midfield. idk who to put up top if we ran a 4-3-3, i think it’d be lacking.

        as for our backline, i hate it when bocanegra and onyewu play together. they are the same player, big, little to average speed, they’ll win everything in the air but their positioning is off and mistakes are annoying…i’d rather see demerit in

  12. todd says:

    what are Holden’s “obvious limitations”? I’m not saying I’d pick him over Dempsey, but dismissing Holden’s play is silly. Its a shame Torres cant get more time.

    • ryan says:

      holden struggled last night in a quick paced game. he had trouble keeping up with the quicker costa ricans, much like dempsey would…his play wasn’t terrible but wasn’t by any means awful.

      i totally agree with torre’s playing time issue, kids got great skill and he can play the CDM if he needs to, great player.

  13. Greg w says:

    Absolute hysteria…. Just shows ignorance. Great article. Great points made. You drop dempsey you may as well throw in the proverbial towel all together. He is World Class. If he plays up top in Davies abscence, he scores a goal a game. He’s THAT good.

  14. Raul says:

    It would be interesting if Bradley moved Dempsey up in place of Davies’ absence. I think he is more successful/comfortable there. I have a hard time critizing one player for the bad performance by US in the opening round of the Conferation Cup although it is very tempting to say Beasley before I would name Dempsey. And if Davies is back and in good form, give me Davies/Dempsey over Davies/Altidore. Altidore has talent but seems to struggle with finishing even great passes as of late.

  15. Raul says:

    It would be interesting if Bradley moved Dempsey up in place of Davies’ absence. I think he is more successful/comfortable there. I have a hard time critizing one player for the bad performance by US in the opening round of the Conferation Cup although it is very tempting to say the name Beasley before I would name Dempsey. And if Davies is back and in good form, give me Davies/Dempsey over Davies/Altidore.

    • ryan says:

      i’d take davies/altidore over anything dempsey anyday. altidore and davies bring way more energy to the game, not to mention altidore’s hold up game is a million times better than dempsey’s…all he needs now is solid playing time at Hull

  16. Joe says:

    I totally agree with Kartik re Dempsey, though think the criticism of young Holden is off-base, Holden’s shown some talent; he’s close to ready to step up next summer too.

    Re Fulham Clint vs USMNT Clint, the obvious differences are….not Clint. Duhh. It’s Hodgson v Bradley Sr.; we know who a poll of fellow coaches would pick there, hands down. Not B. Following from that, we have players of a lesser caliber playing a game without style or good positioning….and Clint looks disgusted at times I admit.

    But Clint’s a pro and holds his tongue and just keeps playing, scoring key goals after key goal, for both USMNT & Fulham. The criticism from know-nothing MLS fan-boys I don’t take seriously; the criticism from former USMNT players counts a little more; but yeah they’re jealous, and I do agree Clint plays better with a better coach. Too late to do anything about that before SA, but…there’s always hope, for 2014! (By then let’s hope Clint is just a USMNT second half sub, maybe still scoring the key goals though!

  17. ryan says:

    not to mention his game against slovakia, when our REAL playmaker and our best player BY FAR, donovan, was absent, he didn’t provide much spark, creativity, or goal scoring opportunities at all.

  18. radelc2 says:

    Dempsey should be playing up top. It’s the end of discussion. He plays out wide for fulham because it’s way more of a possesion oriented game, which he excels at because (like previously stated) he is extremely skilled and doesnt like the running aspect of playin an outside mid position. WHICH is exactly why he shouldnt play there for the USA, there lack of possesion and sloppiness in the holding midfield make dempsey run all over, which causes the shitty attitude everyone is talking about. You say he is a deadly finisher who attacks at people SO PUT HIM UP TOP AND THE DISCUSSION IS OVERRRR.

  19. Warren says:

    Agreed w radelc2, Dempsey should be up top more often than not for USMNT – aslong as Davies is out or until Findlay turns into real alternative. Cunningham as sub around 70th minute for Jozy.

    For Cup, if Ching or Casey starting up top – we have lost b4 game begins.

    Real issue for team is not dropping Dempsey, it is why not play to his strengths more – if the guy can rise to #12 on EPL scoring list playing mid & 2nd striker roles, USMNT should treat him equally to Donovan and get him ball as often as possible. Half of USMNT team is not good enough to play with him is real problem.

  20. zhe fulano says:

    There are some player combinations that have worked well with the U.S.: Dempsey & Spector; Donovan & Beasley; Demerit & Onyewu. These combinations bring the invaluable intangible of good chemistry between two players that makes for excellent play on the pitch. Ironically, everyone of these players has at one time or another been criticized for lack of effort, yet each is invaluable to the USMNT effort.

    The criticisms and compliments of Dempsey are on the mark, but most important among them is the realization that his talents truly shine when competent coaching plays him in the right role. Dempsey isn’t schizo. This just brings us to a key issue: can BB coaching the USMNT get out of Deuce what RH can get out of him at Fulham? This is the key to what everyone here has been talking about. And give BB credit because he answered that with a resounding “YES” at the Confederations Cup. The question now is whether he can get that back for South Africa?

    Almost as important is whether BB work similar magic with Damarcus Beasley, who has been absolutely on fire lately at Glascow Rangers. Having Beasley back in the midfield and playing well makes it not only easier, but outright viable to “lose” Dempsey to play forward. This arrangement – with Beasley in midfield (where he belongs) and Deuce up front – not only can soften the blow of losing Davies – but it outright gives the USMNT another offensive option which opponents will have to respect.

    It can happen. The talent is there. Deuce, Donovan, Beasley & Co. make it all possible. The bottom line is simple: the coaching must deliver at the same level that the players must, and it must do so just as consistently.

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