Dempsey: “I just wanted to come home”

DempseySeattlePresser (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Soccer By Ives

By JASON MITCHELL

SEATTLE – A league finding its stride on and off the field. A local soccer culture that felt European in size and intensity. A sense of obligation to grow the American game.

Clint Dempsey cited all these and more at his introductory press conference Monday afternoon as he explained his decision to abandon the English Premier League for the Seattle Sounders and MLS in the prime of his career.

But perhaps no reason rang so true as the simple desire to live and work and raise his family in the place he was born. And as much as his decision shocked the soccer world, the captain of the U.S. national team made plain it was a while in the making.

“I was already starting to get the itch, to be honest with you,” Dempsey said about returning to the country almost seven years after last playing for the New England Revolution. “I wanted to come to the States. I just missed being in America. It’s where I was born. I wanted to help continue the growth of the game here.”

In explaining his decision over the course of a half-hour press conference with head coach Sigi Schmid and members of the Sounders’ front office, Dempsey time and again made it clear he has always kept an eye on MLS, always felt a commitment to help grow the league and the sport.

“I’ve always followed the league,” he said. “It’s the league that gave me my chance to become a professional. I wanted to be able to come back when I’m in my prime and not when I’m past it, to help continue the growth of this league and of this club.”

General manager Adrian Hanauer couched the signing in terms of the organization’s obligation to its fans.

“We really do feel as though we are stewards of this franchise for our fan base,” Hanauer said. “And they deserve players like we have on our team, and they deserve players like Clint Dempsey.”

Dempsey also emphasized that both the strength of the Sounders’ support and the presence of Schmid helped make Seattle his destination of choice.

When the 30-year-old visited Seattle with the national team in early June, the Sounders played a few days before, on a night Dempsey happened to be out and about the Emerald City.

“It almost felt like you were in a different country, felt like you were in Europe,” Dempsey said on Monday. “Walking around the city, you see the game is on TVs in bars, in restaurants. And I just went, ‘Wow, I never thought I’d see the day.'”

Asked more specifically why he chose Seattle, Dempsey added, “It was important to be in Seattle because of the fan base, the atmosphere. Because Sigi as a coach is someone who’s done so much for the American game. Just being around the national team, you hear players when they talk about different coaches. It was always positive, what players had to say about him.”

Dempsey also said he has yet to talk to United States Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, but dismissed concerns about whether leaving the EPL for MLS would impact his performance in the 2014 World Cup.

“I’m still going to have that pressure to succeed, pushing me every day to make sure I can be the best player that I can be, and help the team be the best they can be,” he said.

“I’m not going to let up, or slow down, or slack,” he added. “I’m going to keep pushing myself, keep working hard, and make the most of where I’m at, and I’m happy to be here in Seattle. We’ll have those discussions, but from my standpoint I don’t see there being a difference there, because there are players still in MLS that get called into camp and they still perform at a high level, and I expect to do the same.”

Asked about his decision to come back in his prime instead of waiting a few years, Dempsey suggested holding off would undermine his ability to help grow the sport domestically.

“You can’t help the growth of the game if you come back and don’t perform,” he said, adding, “I want to come and make an impact. I want to do a good job. I don’t want to come and be past it and not be able to make a difference in games. I want to win things.”

As to what happened to his desire to play in UEFA Champions League, a desire that drove him to move from Fulham to Tottenham just a year ago, Dempsey implied the pull of home and developing soccer in America was simply stronger.

“I’ve been in Europe for six-and-a-half years,” he said, “and I just wanted to come home. I was starting to get that itch—every year it was more difficult to go back [to Europe]. I think everything just has to do with timing. The Seattle Sounders moved mountains to get me here. It was an opportunity to come back in my prime and help continue the growth of this league, and it’s a challenge I’m excited about.”

Addressing his time in Europe, Dempsey concluded, “I look back with no regrets.”

As to his future with the Sounders, he said, “The goal here is to win an MLS Cup, and I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

 

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131 Responses to Dempsey: “I just wanted to come home”

  1. Michael says:

    As a fan of the USMNT, of MLS and American soccer in general, this move still feels very bittersweet to me. And I feel guilty for saying that. Having our best players playing domestically in their prime is something we’ve all wished for, but it just feels weird to me. Am I alone in feeling this way?

    • Roehl says:

      Well, let’s at least hope that your opinion is in the minority.

      • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

        HWAT CLINT SAID: “I just wanted to come home.”

        WHAT CLINT MEANS: “I really wanted $7 Million / Year for 4 years and not other team or league in the world was willing to pay me even half that amount.”

    • Gary Page says:

      I felt disappointment initially, but when you consider it from his viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense and is a smart move. He has a higher salary guaranteed for 4 years instead of 2, gets to return home, and Spurs were unlikely to make the CL before his contract with them was up. As he has said, he will work just as hard wherever he is, so I don’t doubt that he will shine for the national team for 2013 and 2014.

    • Mike in Missouri says:

      You can make the argument that short term (I.E. the next 11 months), it possibly could be a negative, there’s nothing long term negative about it. Trade the slight possibility that Clint forgets how to play international level soccer in the next 11 months for building the league long term? I’ll take that

    • Andy N says:

      I felt the same way at first too. But after looking at it more fully, I do think it’s a good move for him. There certainly was the prospect of him not playing much this year at Tottenham, which would have been a disaster heading into the World Cup. At Seattle, he’ll hopefully get to play the attacking midfield role he excels at and which he plays for the USMNT instead of being a utility player constantly moved around.

      I expect him to really excel with Seattle and enter the World Cup in very good form.

    • danny says:

      Bittersweet indeed! After what he’s done in Europe, I can’t criticize him for taking this deal. Cool that he wants to promote MLS, but let’s face it: the $$$ is the elephant in the room. This will actually make me pay more attention to MLS. But I will miss seeing Dempsey lineup against some of the best teams and players in the world.

      • Eurosnob says:

        Yes, the $$$ is the elephant in the room. I don’t really buy the talk about desire to play at home being the driving factor behind the move – if that was the case, Dempsey wouldn’t have identified Toronto as one of three teams he would be willing to join. Having said that, Dempsey has every right to do what is best for him and his family. MLS and Sounders were willing to overpay and Tottenham and Dempsey took the money.

        • patrick says:

          you realize, he was making nearly the same wage at Tottenham? It wasn’t like he was making considerably less there, and MLS offered him “so much” more.

          • danny says:

            Yea. That’s part of the point. I don’t see him going back to the US unless he’s going to make at least as much or more than he will in Europe. It’s just suprising that MLS and Seattle were able to pull it off.

          • Eurosnob says:

            Patrick, his original contract with Tottenham was for $22.2 million for three years. He had two years remaining on that contract. Accordingly, assuming that the contract was not front loaded or back loaded, the remaining value of his deal with Tottenham is somewhere around $14.7 million. He traded this $14.7 million committment from Tottenham for a $24.0 million contract with Seattle, which roughly gave him extra $10 million. Wouldn’t you agree that a difference of about $10 million is significant?

            • patrick says:

              that 10 million comes across 2 extra years. IMO if he had seen his contract through at tottenham, clint would have no problem making that 10 million on wherever he chose to go next.

              my point being, i don’t think money is an “elephant in the room.” Clint was paid correctly due to his value, as established in the open market.

              • Eurosnob says:

                Yes, I agree that his current contract sets his current market value, but it is possible to overpay in the open market. For example, MLS paid a higher transfer fee to Tottenham than Tottenham paid to Fulham for a younger Deuce, who was coming off a career season. Liverpool paid more for Andy Carroll than it did for Suarez. As for potential future earnings, you have to take into account things like risk of injuries (e.g. Gooch, Holden) and older age that would have significantly reduced the value of his new contract. From purely financial prospective, Deuce took $10 million guaranteed now rather than hoping that someone would offer him a $10 million new contract after he turns 32.

              • jake says:

                Eurosnob, transfer fees are up for the team to decide. Fulham let Clint go at 4 mil because it was the last day of the transfer window which was the very last day they would ever make any money off of Clint’s transfer. Transfer fees are much more circumstantial than a players multi-year contract.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      no, i agree. it’s bittersweet because yes, clint has every right to get his last big payday wherever he wants, be it england, china, russia, or seattle; but, the purely selfish usmnt fan in me wants him to be playing at his highest level come next year’s world cup.

    • THomas says:

      Well. I’m almost polar opposite. I’m a fan of the USMNT, Fulham, the EPL and champions league. I was first drawn to Fulham because of their American players. Now I’m committed for life.

      I live in Chicago, so MLS isn’t as attractive to me as if I lived in the Northwest. But this recent signing gave me hope. Gave me hope the league will keep signing stars when they’re stars. That Chicago could be the next KC.

      So now I’m gonna commit the time and money to support my club. I’m going to the Fire v DC us open cup semi tomorrow night. Should be the start of a great relationship. One I’ve been missing and longing for since I started following the sport in 2006. A domestic league I can be excited about.

      • Todd says:

        As a fellow USMNT, EPL, and Fire fan I am glad to see you are checking out the domestic league. I love going to Fire games and have enjoyed watching them. However, a question I pose to all Fire fans is that if we ever hope to reach a Sounders, Timbers, Galaxy type fan level, does playing out in Bridgeview hurt our chances? The reason I ask is that we rarely sell out a game. You can see by the last USMNT game that there are tons of soccer fans in Chicago. Why are they not going to games? Poor product? I just feel that by putting their home so far out of Chicago and away from any decent form of public transportation that they are out of sight out of mind. Bring them back to the actual city (lots of that “future Olympic site” real estate up for grabs) and I think you see attendance go up. Thoughts? Go Fire!

        • Felix says:

          As a fellow Fire fan, I think unequivocally that being out in Bridgeview hurts the club’s attendance. I don’t have a heat map where the majority of the fanbase lives – but ideally, a more centrally located, easily accessible stadium would have helped attendance. There are other factors here as well, you have a saturated sports market here, and also, a lot of the soccer fans are bigger fans of Liga MX and big Euro leagues, and not as much MLS.
          But there’s nothing we can do it about it now. Unless some mega-millionaire comes in, and moves the team to the city near the ‘L’ and one of the major interstates, the club is going to grow, just at a slower pace than others.

          • Todd says:

            I know it’s not as easy as simply moving the club. It’s not going to happen as long as the Fire continue to pay zero taxes out in Bridgeview. That city is constantly losing money on the deal that got the team to come there in the first place. You make a good point on the saturation of the market as well. I think a majority of the fan base is Latin American but I see that as a huge positive. They are great fans and fiercely loyal to teams. However, what the Fire are missing is the “casual fan”. By being in such a polarizing area they will never be able to capitalize on any of those fans. So how does this team grow? I guess in the long run, quality product and consistency of form. Or bring back Blanco…..haha

            • THomas says:

              I think it’s numerous factors. But to me, the number one factor is that the team plays out in Bridgeview. Plenty of teams play outside of their city and can draw, but it’s all about location and accessibility.

              Cook county has more millionaires than any other county in the nation. The entertainment dollar is there, the interest in soccer is there, but the location and product are killing the franchise.

              If the team were in Rosemont with access to public transit, expressways, etc. then they would draw better.

              If the team were downtown, in a Wrigleyville type area, they’d sell out every game. MLS is now catering to the millenials, the hardcore fan, not the family like they used to. A lot of those fans live in the city and going to a game downtown would bring them in. As it stands, playing outside the city, in a suburb you have to drive to, it keeps them away.

              • Todd says:

                Great point THomas. Seems like either the ownership is either happy with the status quo or don’t care about a successful franchise. When they played in Naperville they sold out every game. Rosemont would be an ideal location if they were looking burbs but for my money in the city limits is where it’s at. South Loop anybody?

              • THomas says:

                South Loop would work for me. I can’t imagine there’d be a lot of options in terms of location, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the right money and management could make it a huge success.

              • jake says:

                You can get to almost all Chicago professional sports off of the red, except the Fire. No doubt getting the team on an L stop would improve it’s fan base and Rosemont would be great.

                Until then I’ll get my rides from the Small Bar and their beer busses

        • CD9 says:

          Yeah they need a stadium that’s actually in Chicago.

          • Rory says:

            That’s the excuse every disappointing franchise uses, except Chivas. Win something, sign a big name, don’t be in a city/market where you’re absolutely burried by other sports. People forget in English cities some teams are burried by Rugby teams, Wigan and Hull for example are never going to be football cities. Market saturation holds back MLS in many big cities.

      • Long Time Listener, Second Time Caller says:

        I am glad you have discovered the Fire at last, but unfortunately for you I think you are tuning into a bandwagon (if you can call it that at this point) too late, and you seem to unaware of what made Chicago Fire football such a point of pride and passion for the city’s fans from the get go.

        It is disappointing to me to hear your account because I understand your perception completely and can only blame MLS and the team’s own decisions regarding the club’s stadium situation in the seasons following the success of the early years… decisions I (as a fan going to all of those matches) still point to when struggling to explain the alienation of a good part of the burgeoning fan base in that city. I remember when the Fire’s supporters were amongst the most raucous and respected throughout the league. We were never on par with what the Pacific Northwest has accomplished as of late, but in those early days of MLS, we were the benchmark for passionate supporters… and it pains me to see the club failing to sell out these days.

        You have missed out on the original expansion club that rocked the league simultaneously with impressive play and fiercely dedicated and passionate fans. The Fire of Bridgeview are a hazy artifact barely resembling that original club and attribute this state of affairs 100% to the decisions to set up shop in Bridgeview.

    • Mike Z says:

      Grow the game in the US, blah blah blah… great fan base… wanted to come home (Yeah, Seattle is really just the Nacogdoches of the north). I don’t doubt that those types of things made the decision easier. But let’s be honest, 3.5 years at $7M per year at 30 years old, that’s a sweet deal! Everything else is filler.

      • jon says:

        You nailed it

        • Rory says:

          Seriously, if you say you just wanted to come back to America then immediately get giddy over how much Seattle feels like Europe, I gotta question that. Also, Wahl claims Dempsey would only play for Sea, LA, Toronto. First, One of these things is not like the others.

          • jake says:

            Toronto used to have an amazing atmosphere which Maurice Edu used to tell him about during international duty. Think back to MLS thursdays when Wynalda was commentating for ESPN…that was the last version of Toronto Clint had seen, he’s got no clue that it’s not even close now that Canada has 3 teams.

            LA is coached by his old USMNT coach, the same coach who gave him his first start and he would play with Landon every day during a WC year.

            Seattle, he gets his good buddy EJ and Sigi is a good dude too…but he also gets the largest fan base in the most European MLS city possible while bringing in a great paycheck.

            I can see why he’d request those, but Toronto dropped out of that consideration immediately because MLS wanted the best American to play in the most supported American Team, he is the USMNT Captian.

      • Anthony Allan Hewetson says:

        But, Dude, Seattle really is the Nacogdoches of the north! That was the funniest thing I have read to today:)

    • Daniel says:

      I think it is a great move for the growth of MLS and the Seattle Sounders. Where the bittersweet comes in is considering whether this is the best move for the development of Dempsey as a player. It may not be the best move for him in that regard. I hear what he has to say about returning home while he is still in his prime and wanting to help grow the game here. I come away with admiration for him. He is right that the only way he can really help the game here is returning while he is still in his prime.

      • Felix says:

        At 30 yrs old, he’s not developing further. He is what he is.

        • Grubbsbl says:

          Not sure why you look at it like that. Plenty of players have reinvented their game after 30. Dempsey is going to be the central player of a teams plan week in week out for the first time in his professional career. It seems reasonable that he is going to improve his vision, knowledge and decision making. And let’s be honest, Dempsey already has the technique.

        • Ryan Giggs says:

          You’re right. After 30, you might as well just hang up your cleats.

    • UMF89 says:

      Michael, yes bittersweet but for different reasons. I think as a fan I was living the dream through Clint in so many ways. Clint made me feel proud, (and I am sure he will in the future as well) an American playing in the EPL, a CL level player who would make a contribution to his club. The only problem is the sands in the hour glass ran out on Clint. He is 30 and when it came down to it he realized his time to be a top 5 player on a CL team in a top four league had past him by. Does this mean he cannot make another huge contribution in Brazil…no..does this mean he can lead the Sounders to the MLS CUP and dominate MLS in the process…we will see…this mean MB90 takes up the mantle of next CL level player at 26…maybe…my cable system goes not offer Serie A so and I can only live this new dream with MB90 through the USMNT…but as American I will always continue to dream…it make us who we are!!!!

    • Scott e Dio93 says:

      Dempsey did a feeling of “what could been” in Europe, most of us USNT fans and MLS fans want American players to leave huge footprint in Europe with trophies and champions. I am not fan Dempsey coming, but I understand the money factor.

    • Brett says:

      This is contingent upon your belief that Dempsey is “in the prime” of his career. He’s 30. That’s straight up old in footballer years, especially for forwards who are supposed to commit to 90 minutes of ball chasing and unselfish runs.

      Dempsey’s “prime” ended a year or 2 ago and began about 2 or 3 years before that (Roy Hodgson’s best years). 5 years of top flight football in a big 4 top division is nothing to spit at, and he’s still got a bit left in the tank for MLS. He knows this, and that’s why he came back.

      He wants to lift a trophy. He wants to be the face of a league. He thought he could do it at a club in Europe, but I think he learned at Spurs that the going is tougher and the windows are smaller when you shoot for those higher competitions. I don’t think he wants to be a spot player on a good team, he wants to be a leader.

      His career could have been the one he imagined, Champions League and trophies and all that, if he had been discovered at a younger age. Players of his quality should be discovered in their teens, become professionals in their late teens, enter their “prime” in their early 20s and ride it through into their 30s before tapering off. Dempsey had to wait until his early-mid 20s to even get the chance to hone his skills with superior players and coaches.

      The torch has been passed. Bradley is a midfield boss in Italy and Jozy has made the move from Holland to England. These are our talisman players entering their primes right now. Demspey and Donovan are just role-players and MLS is where they belong.

      • ronniet says:

        Dempsey, Donovan role players? Your kidding right? Was that a dig at the US’ best and second best player of all time? Bradley will never be the player the two of them are and have been bc he’s just a different type of player, and its really just as simple as that! Dempsey and Donovan will continue to be the go to guys, providing the goals and creating chances for others for as long as they play for the NATS! MB will have his chance to do the same only when those two have stopped playing internationally! Sorry to say it but MB will be lucky to boss anything at Roma if the coach decides De Rossi is still up to it and quite frankly MB is just not better than him yet!

    • Joe says:

      I’m convinced that he took a gander at the All Star’s “rap” video and decided to stick around to right some wrongs.

  2. scott47a says:

    One telling part you didn’t mention is when he talked about wanting his kids to be able to play t-ball like he did when he was a kid.

    For all the hand-wringing by Nats fans about how this could hurt him or how he has let them down, that simple statement held the entire answer for me. A man who wants a happy life for his kids – a life like he had and enjoyed – doesn’t have to answer to anyone for that decision.

    • scott47a says:

      Moderation on this comment? I can’t for the life of me understand why.

    • Gary Page says:

      Some months ago one of the English announcers was talking about transfers, etc. and said that he had been told by players and managers that certain places, such as Sunderland, were at a disadvantage because they didn’t have the shopping, life style, that appealed to players’ wives. I think it was Modric went to the Bundesliga supposedly because his wife wanted to be close to her family. When it seemed likely that the Dempsey transfer rumor was true, I thought maybe it was influenced by family concerns. If I remember correctly his oldest daughter is just about the age to start school and that may have played a part in the decision.

      • john.q says:

        the fanbase easily forgets that these players are human beings too.

      • drew11 says:

        Happy wife, happy life. It wouldn’t surprise me if the idea of leaving London for the Midlands or wherever did not appeal to his wife.

      • Tweaked says:

        Roy Keane while coaching Sunderland: “If they don’t want to come [to Sunderland] because their wife wants to go shopping in London, it’s a sad state of affairs.”

        • GW says:

          Roy Keane?

          Just the person to give out career advice.

          20 and single is not the same as 30 and married with children.

          Ignore that and you’ll soon be 30 and single.

      • RK says:

        I think it was Troy Perkins who came back to the US from Denmark because his wife was homesick…

  3. Jordan says:

    I’m happy for him. He seems to notice that the Sounders are everything to the fans in Seattle and he wants to be a part of their culture as well as MLS’s.

    Didnt think he’d do this before the WC but I’m more happy he did it before he’d get no PT under AVB.

  4. JF says:

    30 isn’t a soccer players prime. The prime years are 23-29.

    • broadsthooligans says:

      Americans start playing later, they tend to have a slightly later prime because they haven’t been playing at a professional level from as young an age as most players around the world. Dempsey is on his way down for sure, he’s older, but I’d say that Dempsey’s really only hit his peak within the past maybe four years (which has a lot to do with his getting comfortable at Fullham obviously). Just looking at his goals though, 2012 he has 12 goals, 2011 he has 23, 2010 he has 13, 2009 he has 9, 2008 he has 8. At 23 Clint was just breaking into Fullham’s club. He was good, but I don’t know that it wasn’t the start of his peak.

      • Gary Page says:

        He didn’t start playing professionally until he was 21, whereas most of his peers started in their late teens. I think he has been more durable as a result. He had an injury spell of 6 weeks two years ago and one of a couple of weeks last season. I don’t think he has had as much wear and tear on his body as a lot of other players his age because of his relatively late start compared to Europeans.

    • John says:

      The prime is the best years of the player’s career after it was over, she means nothing. If he leads us go to the World Cup next year, know one will say after his prime.

    • GW says:

      Every player is different

  5. Troy says:

    This isn’t geared towards you Michael. Seriously people should be more worried about Omar Gonzalez sticking around than Dempsey. I doubt Dempsey was gonna learn anymore about his trade in Europe at this point. Omar Gonzalez would do well for himself to find a European club to play with. Now do I think it will destroy his career-no way. I just think a 24 year old has room for growth and maturation as a player than a 30 year old who has been in the Premier League for 6 years.

    • Mike Z says:

      I agree. Dempsey needs to be playing regularly and sharp, to be effective for the WC. But the idea that he is going to develop in Europe at 30, I don’t see it. The only problem with Dempsey to MLS is if he decides to take his foot off the gas.

    • Ben says:

      Gonzales needs to go to Europe as CB tend to peak around age 27 (when they have experience but haven’t lost their athleticism) and he needs to shore up his defending. MLS has some good forwards put he needs to be around teams that have higher soccer IQ on average and will challenge him to read the game and stay focused at all times.

  6. Turf_Master says:

    Deuce playing on Turf regularly is going to hurt his game and possibly his physical health.

  7. Ryan in NYC by way of NC says:

    I’m starting to come around on this. Good for Clint and good for his family. He’ll be able to find a team to be loaned out to during the Winter, right?

    • Troy says:

      Yes, his contract stipulates that he can find a loan for one winter during the life of the contract. I would assume that loan would be this year. It actually might be the best way possible to get in the champions league if someone is looking for depth cause of injuries or something. Wouldnt that be ironic

    • Gary Page says:

      Who knows, maybe Spurs made it a condition of his transfer. If they lose Bale, they might be able to use him.

      • Mike in Missouri says:

        My own speculation, but I think the probability of Clint signing with Tottenham for a few months is about equal to the probability of Landon signing with Bayern Munich for a few months.

        • Joamiq says:

          Yeah, he’ll be back in Europe, but it won’t be with Spurs. Even if Bale leaves, it’s still a pretty crowded attack. He needs to keep playing 90 minutes week in week out.

  8. Texian1856 says:

    In my heart, I hoped he would win a CL title and then come back to Texas and play in Houston near his family. But, the Seattle deal was too good to pass up for the sake of his wife and kids. He wants the kids to have an American identity and I can not fault a man for putting his family first. Frankly, in the world of soccer, most countries players come from are not places they intend to go back to once they have achieved some success in large leagues like in Europe.

  9. MikeG says:

    Congrats to Dempsey. I see no drop off in production. Actually, I see an INCREASE in assists and goals for Dempsey while playing for Seattle. Believe it or not there is still LOTS of discrimination in Europe (all leagues). Some of that discrimination goes towards US based players. Lots of American prospects are not a finished product and it takes a year or two to get ‘polished’. Look at many US players who played in Europe. This is understandable from Euro Leagues. Seattle is probably the most beautiful major city in the USA ( in the summer months ). I lived in the area for a year. Saw the stadium. Did the Pike Place Market tour. Ferry boats are cool and cheap. People there KNOW how to buy the right jacket. :-)

  10. Steve-o says:

    So realistically, how long can the Sounders win MLS Cup in the Deuce era?

    • Mike in Missouri says:

      No reason they can’t anytime the next 4 years. I think Depth is perhaps a bit suspect as well as the back line, but the front 6 is very good.

      I almost think the home crowd works against them some–seems to put them under more pressure. I think Clint’s experience can help them come playoff time, though.

  11. el paso tx says:

    Nice move by deuce, but does he know that mls has parity and a sucky salary cap, discovery rules, no free agency and of course their famous unbalance schedule. Does he also know, teams in mls dont wanna waste money like seattle, red bull or galaxy. Does he also know, drogba,kaka, tevez, forlan could have been in mls many years ago but teams love mls parity. Does he know houston or fc dallas play in mls and that sigi will be fire by this year if he doesnt win mls cup. I.would have gone for fc dallas, but i guess its too hot in frisco. Someone call jerry jones

    • Joamiq says:

      How is any of this relevant to his decision…?

      • slyboy says:

        El Paso, dude, please, do us all a favor and try to stay on topic… or at least have a cohesive thought in your comments.

    • Charles says:

      Yes, he knows all that. Especially the parity, he is a winner and wants to have a chance to win, not waste a career at Fulham, 50 points back.

      “I want to win things”

      He didn’t say, I want to lose my whole career, and he didn’t whine about not being on a team that is in the select few, he did what a man would do, joined the 7th place team in the West, who has a chance of winning with his addition.

      Nice move

    • Bo says:

      Do you know about grammar and punctuation?

    • slowleftarm says:

      Yeah I’m sure Deuce was thinking about the unbalanced schedule when signing the contract that will pay him almost $7m a year.

    • Travis says:

      i am fairly sure he knows about MLS since he played in it for three years after college…

  12. Jeff Fulton says:

    Those of us that grew up through the original NASL and then had to settle for regional (at best) outdoor soccer (LA Heat anyone – I went to every game) were absolutely floored when MLS started. The quality was OK, but we watched every game anyway. Soon though, as cable started to show European and South American leagues, the masses (relatively) began to gravitate toward the prettier TV games rather than support the local clubs. Some of us (like me, watched it all – MLS and the great foreign leagues – why miss out on any of it?).
    Next we had to sit though European and So American teams playing games here in the summer, drawing huge crowds and ignoring the the MLS even existed. That changed over time and with good (although completely pre-season, but still impressive) Galaxy wins against top clubs (like last Sunday) MLS is just now getting to the point where is it will be in the conversation with (or is) a top 20 league in the world. For those who care, that means a lot, and hopefully the others will be won over some day to fully support MLS. Those of us who remember the indoor LA Aztecs bastardization of the game and the outdoor LA Salsa (not bad, beat Chivas reserves 3-1 in like 1993), we have been here and always will be here supporting the local game.
    So, on that note, I never thought I would see the day that any American team, let alone one that was once in the same A-League as both the Heat and the Salsa, would one day be selling 40,000+ tickets per game and signing an American player for a 9MM transfer fee. For someone like me, it feels like Christmas, my birthday and 4th of July all rolled into one (and I’m a Galaxy Fan not one bit a Seattle fan).

    • CorkSoccer says:

      +1 – ditto and I’m a Union fan but I jave to say I admire that is happening in Seattle.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Awesome post and great perspective. Sometimes people forget where the domestic game was twenty years ago. The idea we’d have a 19 team league averaging 18k+ a game in attendance, with plans to expand to 24 teams soon, paying $9m transfer fees would nto have seemed to realistic back then.

      Back then just qualifiying for the WC was a miracle, now we’re well on our way to 7 in a row.

    • Ben says:

      It’s sad that even an MLS fan thinks maybe MLS belongs in the conversation of being a top 20 league. MLS is way better than people give it credit for if you actually look at the talent league wide. MLS is different from every other league because that talent is spread over 20 teams as opposed to every other soccer league that pools all of the leagues talent into 1-4 teams that are at the top of the table every year. Have you ever seen 2 mid to lower table Scottish teams play? The Galaxy and RSL would beat them 8 out of 10.

      Here is a fun exercise, Take all the players in MLS and put together two super rosters. You’ll be pretty impressed with the results and IMO you end up with a team that would win Concacaf Champions league every year and would probably be mid table in top leagues.

      Here is one possible starting 11

      Henry–EJ

      Donovan—Chahill—Zusi

      Beckerman

      Lloyd–Besler–Gonzo–Evans

      Rimando

      I’d take that starting 11 against a whole lot of other starting 11’s out there and there are still a huge amount of great players that are left off.

    • beachbum says:

      excellent post, thanks for that perspective

  13. Joamiq says:

    Hey Jason Mitchell, you can write. Good piece.

    • Iggy says:

      90% of it is straight quotes.

      • Brett says:

        Compared to one or two other contributors to this blog, this might as well have been Shakespeare. I agree, the editorial voice is solid and there’s a good mix of sentence structures.

  14. Clint, really?

    I was long on you to notch up to the next level in Europe, and be the first truly world class player from the US.

    It does not make it any sweeter that you sign up with that team.

    Oh well.

  15. Fredo says:

    Good for you, Clint.

  16. whoop-whoop says:

    Yeah…. nicely written article.

    Fans tend to view players as a commodity…. as surrogates to feed their own ego. It’s fine…. it’s a diversion. That said, talk of betrayal or questioning his character and the like I’ve seen is a total loss of perspective and ridiculous in regards to a man living his own life his own way. I don’t pretend to know the man, but he sure has accomplished an awful lot, much that was against the odds. From my perspective, he appears to be a very healthy, balanced human being. Quite obviously he loves soccer… his career, has lived many years where it was #1 priority in his life. Reaching a place where you are successful in something you love and where family…. your children come first is the best anyone could hope for. Think Clint is in a place now where he can enjoy the very best of both. Who can possibly begrudge or resent that? Happy for the dude.

  17. Oranje Mike says:

    The “shocked the soccer world” line has a touch of hyperbole. The world does not seem all that interested in Deuce ditching England for MLS. When the story dominated American blogs and news sites, it was barely mentioned across the pond.

    • Brett says:

      “Soccer world” could be interpreted as “the world where people call it ‘soccer'” and thus the line would be factual.

  18. Brian says:

    I watched Dempsey’s entire European stint. I still recall watching the game where he scored against Liverpool live and pretty much credit him for making me a dedicated BPL fan. But, anyone who’s Clint’s age and status in his personal life can relate to some of his feelings expressed. So it makes sense.

    Let’s hope Jozy can keep up his form from last season.

    • Brett says:

      I think at some point every American fan was a Fulham fan because of that goal. I also credit them with my entry into English club football. It’s hard to believe that at one point they had McBride, Bocanegra, Dempsey, and Eddie. I remember I would play FIFA/Pro-Evo only with them.

      It’s a shame that Dempsey comes back to MLS from what can be called a disappointing season at Spurs. It would have been nice to see him leave Fulham as a legend in the same way McBride did.

      • Gary Page says:

        Kasey Keller also played there before EJ. That’s why people called it Fulhamerica.

      • beachbum says:

        it would have been nice to see Spurs qualify for CL last year…he’d probably still be there in whatever role imo. that he went for it and pushed for his chance although falling short only speaks to his heart and desire he’s always lauded for, and rightfully so seems to me

  19. biff says:

    Clint’s move to Seattle is no doubt a great victory for MLS and a great financial victory for Clint, who has every right in the world to do what is best for himself and his family. I wish him all the best and hope he can retain the fabulous USMNT form that he has displayed the past year. In my opinion, his game improved tremendously playing at Tottenham with very talented players.

    As a soccer fan, I am disappointed because I loved watching Clint play in Europe. Watching him play for Seattle just ain’t gonna be the same. My concern is, that he will lose the famous Clint Dempsey edge and that at some point he is going to regret making the move back too early. But thank gosh that we still have other Yanks who are striving to make it in Europe that we can cheer for.

    • Gary Page says:

      I think if we have learned one thing from Clint’s career, it is that he is a hard worker who has a lot of personal pride. I think your concerns are unwarranted.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        hm, i’d say we learned that clint thrives when he’s considered the underdog, or long shot. which is what worries me about him being the top dog in mls. hopefully your theory is the correct one.

    • beachbum says:

      as a soccer fan, and one here in the states, I’m psyched biff. I dig watching these guys play live, watching Keane play live, watching Morales and Boniek live, Ricketts and Rimando, watching Gonzo live, Wondo, Henry, Cahill, and the chance to watch Blanco and Moreno and Beckham live when they played, and so many more! Now Clint…it’s a treat for me as a soccer fan here in the states!

  20. biff says:

    And just to add: Clint’s move to Seattle with the massive salary is no doubt not sitting well with Landon Donovan, who is making peanuts compared to Clint. Landon now has two choices: 1) try to negotiate a big fat raise in a new MLS contract or 2) finally move permanently (as in a 2- to 3-year contract) to Europe.

    Go to Europe, Landon! Show your stuff there and then back to MLS!

    • Brett says:

      My heart is full of joy for Clint and I hope that Seattle becomes a 2-3 year dynasty in MLS with him lifting MLS, US Open, and CCL trophies.

      As an international fan, this sort of signals the beginning of the end for Deuce. He will be a major role-player in Brazil, there’s no question, but beyond that, 2018 may not even be a lock for him. He will certainly feature in the build up toward Russia, but by that summer he will be 34 having played most of his games on field-turf, and will not realistically be a better option than anyone waiting in the wings. He could be a sub/bench captain or something, but it’s now time to put our eyes forward. Johannson will fit nicely into his spot by 2018.

      • Pingunça says:

        This Clint D move to Seattle has been a great therapy session for the fans … who care so much.

      • NaranjaFanatic says:

        Don’t see Seattle becoming any sort of Dynasty and I don’t see them winning an MLS Cup any time soon. They are historically fragile (physically and mentally), soft, and underestimate their opponents. They have always been about style over substance. Perhaps Duece’s leadership will help in that department. They probably still need to shore up the defense to win anything too soon.

        • Brett says:

          I don’t know how you can cite history with a team that has changed many of its major players in the last 2 years.

          Any team needs to score and defend to win consistently. Adding Dempsey pretty much guarantees the former. I’m not saying it will happen, but I’d like to see it happen.

          I know Seattle is fun to hate, but as an MLS neutral I absolutely love their fan support and I hope they do well every year to reward the money the fans put into the club. Hopefully the Silverbacks can get an MLS slot and give me a team to root for so I can hate on Sounders like everyone else.

          • NaranjaFanatic says:

            Not really hating. I love their fan support as well and I love the signing. I just think they need to change their club mentality to win a title. As I said, Dempsey’s experience could be the trigger. I still think they need more consistency in the back line.

        • Travis says:

          Historically? They’ve had four full season in MLS hard to draw much from that. Their biggest issue this year is keeping people healthy, even with the addition of Dempsey keeping Alonso healthy is the most important thing if they want to make a run. He runs their team and is one of the best ball winners in the league.

        • Pingunça says:

          Houston’s got quite the home win streak going… good luck

    • Charles says:

      LA will pay Landon and that is what US soccer needs. American’s making money playing soccer….in the US.

      American’s not making much in Europe, while losing most of the time was a stepping stone to where we are now. We still have one foot on that stone, which is a shame, but the reality. It is was it is.

    • Mike says:

      Landon’s out! The Gold Cup all but sealed the deal that when his MLS deal is over in December he is GONE. Hes leaps better than Deuce and I hope the arm band comes home WCQ time and finds its way back to Lando.

  21. automata says:

    From a USMNT fan point-of-view, always good to see attacking players logging heavy minutes together, developing chemistry day-in and day-out. That seems to be beneficial for Spain and Germany where most of their top talent play together at the club level. EJ and Clint have been teammates in the past, but rarely saw game action together and hopefully having Clint there will help in further preparing/developing Yedlin and Evans.

    • Beto says:

      OhYa! Always said that was one of things holding down the USMNT. Next year we should have multipule groups of players on the same clubs; Seattle, LA, KC, Stoke, TJ. The day we have two cb’s and keeper on the same really good club team will be the day…

      The Dempsey/EJ partnership could really take off but i think that the Landon (LA) vs Duece (SEA) rivalry and combo will be huge. Guarentee epic matchups, playoffs too!!, to come

  22. Bean says:

    It was that last fishing trip, wasn’t it?

  23. Beto says:

    Love everything about this deal. When is he going to start?!? Enough talk lets see him rip up some MLS defenses. Debut this weekend @tfc? Next week @houston or at home vs Portland?? I assume he is just getting back into season mode would a Texas homecomming next week be too much to ask?

  24. Dc says:

    Did everyone watch Clint’s MLS highlight reel? Dang. I hope the Harlem Globetrotter part of his game re-emerges now that he is back.

  25. MiamiAl says:

    Deuce, you now fall into my “Landon Donovan Catagory”- I cheer for you when you play for the Nats, and I boo the hell out of you when you play my DC United!!!! :)

  26. Mike says:

    In Europe they pipe in chants too so it sounds louder than the actual fans? That’s so weird.

  27. beachbum says:

    maybe that’s why he pushed so hard for a transfer from Fulham? Because he knew his window was closing, with his kids growing older and wanting to settle down with them in the states, his own ‘itch’ thing…then with what Spurs are doing, and having to wait at least another year for CL no matter what with that team at best, so another two seasons out there IF CL is earned whatever his team role…all makes sense to me what he’s up to and his moves, and he’s getting paid too.

    to those who have said they won’t support MLS because of this and how it went down, I think you’re missing the point on how a soccer league has grown in the states from zero to present day and we’ll move on without you unfortunately, but you can get in on the fun anytime you want to or not. Personally can’t wait to see Clint both live and on TV playing for them. He can expect teams psyched to stop him so that should help keep his blade sharpened

  28. eddie says:

    I’m happy for the Clint and wish his family well. For all those that try to indicate his move was somehow not good, remember he’s human and has a family. His family comes first.

    I don’t blame him one bit for coming home. We need to love America and the American soccer product. We need to stop this crap Europe crap.

    We are AMERICANS!

  29. B16 says:

    If the money was similar to His EPL deal, did Clint come home for a better tax rate-European rates are stratospheric.

  30. AJA says:

    I don’t fault the guy for wanting to come home. The disappointment for me is that he really symbolized the rise of American football internationally. Week in and week out, I tracked how well he did at Fulham and at Spurs, in the best league in the world and in the Europa league. He wasn’t a superstar, he doesn’t have sublime skill on the ball, but though grit, tenacity and hustle, the guy made a name for himself. He was a great ambassador of the American game. MLS has improved, but it is still a very long way off. He should be the best player in the league, and perhaps he can stay at the same level of performance for the USMNT. The unfortunate fact, though, is that I already know what a Sounders game looks like. I know he can beat MLS defenders. His presence there won’t make me want to watch Sounders if there’s a European game on.