Clint Dempsey’s Seattle Sounders Move Puts Him Back in a More Influential Role

Clint Dempsey’s move to the Seattle Sounders from Tottenham Hotspur was one of the more surprising moves of the summer transfer window. At the eve of last season, the American forward was a major transfer target and was one of the deadline-day dramas as Spurs plucked him away from a seemingly dithering Liverpool. So a player of his caliber and at his perceived peak making a return back to the MLS so soon was largely seen as a backward step in his career.

The 30-year-old forward took over as captain of the USMNT in March this year and was the new team talisman in Landon Donovan’s spell of exile by team-coach Jurgen Klinsmann. For many American supporters, seeing Clint progress in a Europe’s top-flight environment boded well for the national team’s chances of excelling in international tournaments.

Along with Michael Bradley at AS Roma, Jozy Altidore at AZ Alkmaar and Sunderland, Tim Howard at Everton and Jermaine Jones at Schalke 04, Dempsey leads the new guard of experienced cosmopolitan players who can hold their own in the top leagues and extinguish the global presumption that the U.S. will never get anywhere in global game.

Tottenham’s huge turnover of players this summer seemed like it would mean more bench-time for Dempsey if he did stay for the coming season. So he – some would say misguidedly, some would say shrewdly – turned down offers from Everton or Sunderland and opted for Seattle instead.

In his previous season, Dempsey managed 43 appearances at his second Tottenham, scoring 12 goals and six assists. These figures would have seemed respectable if they weren’t put up against his prolific final season at Fulham where he managed 23 goals and six assists. As a result, it seemed as though he was struggling to adjust to his new club and his new role as U.S. captain.

Looking at his Premier League career as a whole shows a much more accurate picture of his talent. Dempsey scored 57 goals after seven seasons in England. This ranks him 60th all time, seventh as a non-European and first as an American.

When a player moves to a league where he then receives a huge reception and becomes the highest paid player in that league, it can hardly be seen as a failure. The capture of Dempsey has been a major statement that the MLS is no longer just a stepping stone for younger players or where stars in their twilight can make one last paycheck.

So far, Dempsey has made five appearances for the Sounders. Three as a starter and two as a substitute. While he hasn’t contributed any goals or assists, 18 shots on goal so far show that it’s not for lack of trying. It would be inaccurate to say that his presence is the reason the Sounders are on a five-game winning streak and are now the top team in the MLS. It would also be unfair to say it’s not a contributing factor.

The Sounders already had the aerial threat of Eddie Johnson (a close friend of Clint) and the mercurial journeyman Obafemi Martins. With these teammates, alongside in-form Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans, Dempsey should see his name on the goals and assists sheets by the end of the season. Given that the level of defending that he is facing now is of lower quality than what he had faced before, his adjustment time to the new setting shouldn’t be much longer.

It will be more comforting for USMNT supporters to think of Dempsey’s transfer less as a downward move in league-level and more as an upward move in the forward’s role in a new team. Dempsey’s best Premier League form came while he was the main focus of the Fulham side, rather than a supporting role that he had at Spurs. At Seattle, he can definitely reclaim this influence and responsibility.

After the MLS post-season, which the Sounders seem well on track to make, Dempsey would be a popular loan acquisition for many European clubs, ensuring he stays sharp and prepared for the now-booked summer in Brazil.

9 thoughts on “Clint Dempsey’s Seattle Sounders Move Puts Him Back in a More Influential Role”

  1. He’s the face of American soccer, playing in front of 50-65,000 fans a game in a world cup year helping continue to take MLS forward- what’s not to understand

    or he could be slepping around a bottom feeder EPL team- God forbid a player enjoy himself at work

  2. i think he took the easy way out and please no mls side would stay up in the if he was on a bottom feeder side your words he would still be competing against better talent.he will get his money and won’t have to work as hard more power to him.still waiting to hear his side of the Fulham fiasco.

    1. MLS doesn’t have to be as good as the bottom of the EPL. Seattle looks like the funner gig and better experience- why begrudge him from playing in his home country

      1. gbewing
        if your a top athlete wouldn’t you want to perform against the best.i don’t begrudge him anything he just took the easy have to admit his exit from Fulham was messy.

  3. Smart move staying away from that timebomb that is Sunderland…
    MLS isn’t such a big step down in talent anymore. In my opinion teams like Seattle could thrive in the ‘Championship’ in England. So really why end up on a bottom feeder like Sunderland that will be fighting off relegation. When he can join a team like Seattle that is quite stable, and he’ll be a frist team player every game. I think its a smart move really

  4. As a spurs fan I think a lot of us were surprised that we let Clint go. While he didn’t have the flash or instinctive ability of many of his team mates or many of the new arrivals he did have this unteachable nack of being in the right place at the right time to score very important goals for us. He also worked his preverbials off every second that he was on the pitch, a trait that can never be underestimated. As mentioned in the article above, he was likely to be on the bench a lot more this season and in a world cup year I believe he made the correct choice to move on to get game time. I personally think that were it not for the fee that spurs were offered for him, we would not have let him go and that Seattle have got themselves a very good and well rounded player. While you cannot win a major trophy with a team full of Clint Dempseys there is no way you can win anything without having people of his quality, drive and work ethic in the team. I don’t get to see much MLS being in the UK but from what I have seen and the quality of the US players plying their trade in Europe the improvments made in US football (that’s right, football) have been astounding. I don’t think it will be long before the world will see the US national team properly competing for major international honors. I want to wish Clint all the best at Seattle and while he was only with spurs for a short time his efforts were much appreciated and not to be taken lightly.

  5. I don’t see how this helped his career at all. The only thing it did was line his pockets (fair play to him), and gave him an easier few years left with his playing career. He won’t move back overseas.

    As much as I keep wanting to like the MLS, it’s hard watching it after watching the European leagues. It reminds me of watching high school sports. It’s that bad at times. Americans seem so hellbent on creating chants and wearing scarves that they forget the product on the field truly sucks. MLS has its work cut out for it for the next decade or two.

    Bring in relegation!

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