Falling In And Out Of Love With Clint Dempsey

Perhaps Clint Dempsey, the man known as “Deuce,” is the greatest American soccer player of all time.

The Texan had an enormous impact on me as a child growing up in the Boston area. Dempsey’s scrappy goals and occasional appearances on the national team won over my heart. My parents took me to Gillette Stadium many times to see the New England Revolution in their “glory days,“ but when I was there I did not care if Taylor Twellman scored again, if Steve Ralston influenced the match, or if Jay Heaps was playing solid defensively. All I cared about was Deuce. His runs were fantastic as I can remember, along with his skill, but most impressive was his ability to be in the right place at the right time, and willingness to put his body on the line for a goal.

During the same period of time, I saw my first European match. It was the Liverpool vs. AC Milan, the 2005 Champions League Final. I was ten at the time and all I had known was MLS. This match opened my eyes to the world of football. And as any young boy would, I pledged my faith, and naturally my life, to Liverpool Football Club. I have faked sick to be home for Champions League matches and I do put my phone on airplane mode if I have to watch a match on tape delay. As we all know, following a football club is an obsession, but when one gets tied to a local player and international team, things can get complex quickly.

The 2006 World Cup was my first “real” World Cup and when Clint Dempsey was selected to the USA team by Bruce Arena, I lost it. Fortunately, my birthday was just a month before the World Cup finals commenced and of course the #8 was on the back of the new navy blue USMNT jersey.

I’ll never forget being in school, while the U.S. played the Czech Republic. It was torturous to sit in class, but I managed to convince my teacher I had a bad stomach ache, at least 9 times that day, to run to the library every 10 or so minutes to check the score. It was a fun, yet painful experience, and even more so after I learned Dempsey did not start. The U.S. lost the match, of course, leading to their disappointing display in Germany. When the Stars and Stripes played the eventual winners Italy, Dempsey played very well and his match was highlighted by a quadruple scissors, which I practiced for at least a  month after the event. Though, the match against Ghana took the cake.

DaMarcus Beasley had frustrated me for years, and in that third group match, he sent another aimless ball into space. At the time, Dempsey was out of the frame and I remember screaming an obscenity at the TV screen, forgetting I was in the presence of my friend‘s parents. Then out of nowhere, Dempsey streaked in like a lighting bolt, and hammered the half-volley past the Ghanaian keeper. Absolutely stunning. That is the joy only football can bring, as a local hero can go abroad and dance in front of cameras broadcasting a match around the globe after scoring a sensational goal. Deuce could not have struck it any sweeter.

In January 2007, after the New England Revolution had lost yet another MLS Cup, with Dempsey coming on as a substitute due to injuries, Fulham snatched the Furman star from Steve Nicol’s team. Thus, my soccer idol had made it to the top league in the world. The only problem being that I supported Liverpool. If the Reds win, I am ecstatic, but if they draw or lose I get stick for a week from the City, United, and Chelsea bandwagon jumpers (it’s been a long few years).

On May 5, 2007, two days after my birthday, Liverpool played Fulham. I never thought Clint would get playing time in the match as he was barely getting any beforehand and Fulham were in the midst of a relegation fight. Of course, I entered a state of shock watching the match when Dempsey scored to give Fulham the 1-0 win. Sure it saved Fulham and I was excited that of all people Clint struck for the Cottagers, but this was my first experience in football where my emotions collided.

Fast forward to December 5, 2011. In between the above dates, Dempsey had led the United States to the Confederations Cup Final and scored notable goals for club and country, the best being his chip against Juventus to put the Cottagers through on that magical European night at Craven Cottage. Meanwhile, Liverpool had a strong season upon Torres’ arrival, but sold Xabi Alonso but have struggled since.

I knew the fixture was coming and it was that time of year when Dempsey had to take on the Reds. I posted on Facebook Sunday nightthat Liverpool would win the match 2-1, with a Dempsey goal coming from inside the six (as most of his goals do). Just three days ago, I was in the school library surrounded by Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Barcelona supporters. The voice of Ian Darke takes one away from troubles, such as homework, until a challenging moment occurs. I heard Darke’s words before I could process the goal. I’ll never forget that moment when Dempsey scored to beat LFC again at Craven Cottage. It was a classic, scrappy Dempsey goal, scored inside the six. When the final whistle blew, I slammed my computer lid and was on the T faster than ever before. I just wanted to get home and forget it all. I felt like my own child had betrayed me. Liverpool had lost, Dempsey had scored.

There are a lot of strange people on the T and I became one of them when I wiped tears from my eyes after that crushing blow. It was amazing to me how one man could come so far from a MLS team in southern Massachusetts, to breaking the hearts of millions wearing red, myself included.

I am proud of Clint for scoring the goal. Yet I can never forgive him for defeating Liverpool. He has saved my country and local club countless times, but when he beats the club I will support until I die, it is was as if a dagger was shoved into my heart.

32 thoughts on “Falling In And Out Of Love With Clint Dempsey”

  1. So you pledged your life to the team that won the first Champion’s League you watched? …then call City, United, and Chelsea fan’s “bandwagon jumpers”.


    1. Bandwagon jumpers are the people who Cheer for a team after something good happens or is happening then they hop onto to another one when things go wrong. Liverpool hasn’t done too well the past few years since I last checked, do if he’s stuck with the team for the past 6 years through thick and thin and cries after they lose I’m not quite sure how you can compare him to chelsea bandwagon jumpers. Since the kid fully supported the clib they have won one cup. Hopping the bandwagon would be if he left liverpool for united after seeing them win titles. Besides are kids in the u.s. not allowed to cheer for teams from England. What do you want them to do? Not support football clubs at all? Fantastic article!

      1. @James: lfctillidie said it all for me. a bit insulted youd go for the bandwagon comparison, considering I’ve never seen a bandwagon jumper cry after a loss. i know the history of lfc, watch every match, not sure how that’s jumping the bandwagon when the kids around me can’t name any players on madrid other than Ronaldo.

        1. no that’s still bandwaggon jumping. you watched your first(!) ever european football match and saw liverpool win the biggest prize in world football so you then “pledged” your life to them…because they won. would you have done the same if milan won? if you watched it one year later you might be one of the biggest barcelona fans ever

    2. By your definition, pretty much every fan in the world is a bandwagon jumper.

      There is a moment in everybody’s life where they choose to follow a team. As long as that person sticks with that team through all the good as well as the bad, then they’re fine. It’s the one’s that constantly change their allegiances that are the true bandwagon jumpers.

      1. I think we’re conflating two different terms here. “Jumping on the bandwagon” is different than “bandwagon hopping”. Yea, to a degree all fans jump on a bandwagon. It’s the ones who then hop to another bandwagon who are so irritating.

        Then there’s the petit bandwagon jump. In the past couple of seasons, for instance, I’ve found Napoli to be an absolute joy to watch, so I will root for them except when they play Roma or if they draw Schalke in Europe (or Sheffield Wednesday… but I don’t see that being an issue any time soon).

    1. How so Mike? No matter what your opinion is, I think that’s a low blow based on one article that you may not agree with or rate. The quality on EPL Talk has improved a lot recently.

      The Gaffer

  2. Utter crap that game!! If Spearing was sent off for a clean tackle then Dempsey should have been off for violent conduct for the Bellamy stand off.

  3. Unreal article. Aside from being a bit older than you my soccer interests have followed an almost identical path. Do you by any chance watch your games at the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge?

    1. Can’t say I have because my parents aren’t the worlds biggest soccer fans. I do know Kevin trainer who runs the show down there (he has hooked me up with some nice shirts). Feel free to contact me by e-mail on my author page and i hope to get down there ASAP

  4. Dempsey has to be the second most successful American player in the EPL after Brad Friedel. He is not the most technically gifted player nor one that is silky smooth but he is very opportunistic and plays hard every game and that’s why he is rewarded with the goals he scores. There are many teams that would love to have a player like him on their books.

  5. The first EPL match I ever watched was three years ago and it was Stoke v. Middlesborough. It led me to become a huge Stoke fan. Am I a bandwagon jumper?

  6. Considering he’s still a teenager, I think Alex did a really nice job with this piece. Perhaps that’s because as an American Liverpool fan, I have felt the same way. Though I’m older and have been following Liverpool since Evans was in charge, I’ve been a big fan of Dempsey since the first time I saw him as a rookie with the Revolution. He’s a hungry and determined player, and I think his skill set is still underrated. I’ve always hoped he would eventually become a Liverpool player, which i think makes sense given his flexibility as a outside/inside midfielder or support striker.

  7. I once enjoyed coming to this site however I have been unhappy lately with the quality and subject matter of the articles. Too many ‘who cares’ articles.

    1. What type of articles are you looking for? What content do you care about? Give us a hint, at least :)

      The Gaffer

      1. But you just commented on two other articles, nonsense, so you must enjoy reading some of the articles. No one is going to love every single article we write. Even my favorite websites and authors write stuff that sometimes I don’t like (or I’m not interested in).

        The Gaffer

        1. I do enjoy reading some of the articles. You’re right, there will always be an article that doesn’t interest you. I will continue to check the site and maybe keep the negative comments to myself. I just thought there was a little more fluff than usual.

          1. No worries, you can definitely share your negative criticism, but we’d appreciate it if you could provide some insight into what types of articles you like to read, or want to read more of.

            The Gaffer

  8. Great article! Don’t let the negative comments get you down… You article is an editorial piece and an exemplary one at that. Considering you were 10 in 2005 you must be in high school still. This article is very well written for someone your age, and better than what most of these negative morons could write. Keep it up!

  9. Absolutely agree, great article and I have to say that I love hearing from a fellow Dempsey fan. However, I count myself lucky because I follow Fulham and his goal was pure gold. I’m not sure what I would do if Dempsey joined Liverpool and beat Fulham… who knows that may happen in sometime after January.

  10. Very well written article, especially for being in high school. It’s just a shame that it’s about you instead of soccer or Dempsey for that matter. If you read between the lines, it’s pretty much a claim to your audience that you have the credentials to be a fan.

    1. you have the credentials. Haters- see above- will always claim they have a better reason to be a fan than anyone else. There’s no satisfying the “armchair strikers.” Wear that red regardless.

    2. you will be a fantastic writer

    3. you will be a fantastic writer for this site if you focus on football rather than yourself. Opinions are great. Unsolicited autobiographies are… not so much.

    Keep at it brother.

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