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Why Clint Dempsey Is Potentially the Greatest US Soccer Player in History

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 08:  Forward Clint Dempsey #8 of Team USA advances the ball against Team Antigua and Barbuda during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 8, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2012

Clint Dempsey is not the face of American soccer. He is not the all-time leading goal scorer. However, he may already be the United States' greatest player. If not, he is definitely on track.

The list of U.S. soccer greats is not exactly lengthy and prestigious, but what Dempsey has accomplished in his career has moved him to the forefront of the discussion.

You don't believe he's the best? He won the 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year award. OK, something more relevant should be used to make the case—but it is an accomplishment nonetheless.

The 29-year-old Nacogdoches, Texas native has added to his résumé since then. Dempsey became the second U.S. player to score in multiple World Cups by scoring in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. Speaking of the 2010 World Cup, most remember Landon Donovan's heroics but forget that Dempsey had a controversial disallowed goal earlier in the match against Algeria.

In the 2011 Gold Cup, it was Dempsey who saved the skin of the U.S. by being the only scorer against Panama in the semifinals. His international successes have not stopped. On Feb. 12, Dempsey scored the lone goal against Italy in the United States' first win in 11 matches against the Italians.

What about his club success? It was a banner year for Dempsey in England's Premier League.

Dempsey, playing for Fulham, became the first American to ever record a hat trick in the league. In 37 appearances for the club Dempsey came away with 17 Premier League goals, 23 in all 2011 competitions. The collection of goals sent him past Brian McBride as the top U.S. scorer in Premier League history.

Performing at a high level on the international stages has set him apart from his American counterparts.

Dempsey has garnered other accolades as well. He was the 2006 and 2011 Honda Player of the year and the 2007 and 2011 US Soccer Athlete of the Year.

Returning to his U.S. National Team credentials, Dempsey has 87 caps and 27 career goals for the stars and stripes. Five of those 27 goals came in 2011 competition—a great sign for the U.S. as they bring on a new era with Jürgen Klinsmann and World Cup qualifying.

With only a few appearances for the U.S. in 2012, Dempsey has made his presence felt. Starting four of his five appearances, Dempsey has come away with three scoring strikes.

Landon Donovan being the face of U.S. soccer may mislead others into believing he is the greatest ever, but on a global stage, it is Dempsey that has made his mark. With the culture of soccer growing in the United States, we can be happy that the talent level is continuously rising.

As Dempsey's legend continues to be written, the youth of America are buying his jersey, hanging posters and making him a role model. Clint Dempsey has joined the ranks of the U.S. soccer elite. From Donovan to Claudio Reyna to Brian McBride and beyond, it is Dempsey that stands atop the list of American greats.

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