Clint Dempsey: Right Move to Return to MLS?
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday, Clint Dempsey made a historic move to the Seattle Sounders. The under-the-radar exchange between Seattle and Tottenham was certainly one of the biggest in the transfer window thus far.
As one of the biggest surprises of the summer, this deal was put together rather quickly.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated wrote a brilliant recap of the events leading up to Dempsey’s eventual signing; he interviewed Seattle’s general manager Adrian Hanauer on how they kept the deal quiet:
"We have really good contacts at the airport, so we were able to sneak him off the flight and down onto the tarmac into a van," says Hanauer with a laugh. "Then he went back around to a baggage claim area that wasn't for his flight. He jumped in my car. His associate James [Skelland] went and got the bags. We picked him up and then away we went."
I recommend reading the entire story because the entire process, including how MLS was involved, was extremely fascinating.
Dempsey’s return to America is great for a number of reasons.
The most important thing for the confidence of an athlete is getting consistent playing time. In Seattle, Dempsey will get that and more.
In Dempsey’s time at Tottenham, he never really got the opportunity to play big minutes. He notched 22 Premier League starts last year, but that’s simply not enough for a player who is trying to lead his team in the World Cup.
The American hero had to prove himself on a daily basis, which must have been exhausting for the 30-year-old veteran.
At this point in his career, Demspey needed to make a move that was right for him. In Seattle, he not only will get 90 minutes every game, but he won’t have to endure the pressures of fighting for a starting spot every time he touches the field.
The confidence that he will gain by playing on a regular basis will help his overall game. He is too far into his career to worry about his location anymore.
MLS has been trying to bring more players with star power into the league, but no one expected a player like Dempsey. With Diego Forlan and Lucas Melano rumored to come to America, the United States veteran is a pleasant surprise.
MLS has been pushing for a higher quality of talent in the league; it finally has another great player.
Dempsey’s return proves that competition in MLS is finally up to a higher standard. If he didn’t think the MLS could properly prepare him for the World Cup, he wouldn’t be there.
The main argument against this move is that he won’t be playing well enough in preparation for the World Cup. This is completely ridiculous.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States national team don multiple starters from MLS. Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Eddie Johnson, and Landon Donovan have all been in the good graces of Klinsmann during his time as head coach. Obviously the United States head coach doesn’t discriminate against players in MLS.
The decision comes down to the 2014 World Cup. Can Dempsey properly prepare himself in MLS for next summer’s competition?
Honestly, I don’t think Dempsey knows the answer to that. That’s why he put a clause in his contract that will allow him to return to Europe during the winter months, according to Ives Galarcep of Soccer by Ives.
This clause is perfect for Dempsey. If he feels that the competition won’t properly prepare him, he can return to Europe for the months leading up to the World Cup.
A lot of people don’t realize that the MLS schedule is built perfectly to prepare players for the World Cup. Players on the other side of the world end their seasons in May, so they don’t have any rest going into the world’s highest level of competition.
MLS players on the other hand start their season at the beginning of the year. This means that they will be in midseason form when the World Cup comes around. Dempsey can play in Europe for a few months leading up to the World Cup if he wants, giving him the ultimate flexibility.
Clint Dempsey is arguably the best player on the United States roster, but as a veteran, he knows what is best for him. I would be shocked if this move didn’t end up helping him, and the United States men’s national team, in the end.
Follow me on Twitter: J_Finkel
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