The dust has settled. Clint Dempsey is plying his trade for the Seattle Sounders.
Unfortunately, his two games in the Emerald City have not given a fair sample as to how head coach Sigi Schmid might deploy him when Seattle have a full side.
In Dempsey’s first match, the team’s other Designated Player Obafemi Martins was forced out of action early due to injury. In Deuce’s second match, a 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo, both Martins and strike partner Eddie Johnson were missing because of Martins’ fitness and EJ’s disciplinary suspension.
A lack of a fully loaded Sounders side has seen Dempsey float about the field at his will, picking and choosing the times he wishes to drop deep and create from midfield.
Even though Seattle have not had a full complement of players, Schmid should continue to allow Dempsey to play with this type of freedom of movement.
Sure, Dempsey can play as an outside winger. He has done it before at both the club level and for the USMNT in the past. He is effective at it, too, crossing with precision and lively enough to skip past defenders on the flank.
He is also able to play as a true striker, stationed firmly on the opposition’s last man with the single intention of harassing the center-backs and scoring goals.
Those positions are too limiting for a player of Dempsey’s status, though. The Sounders are paying him too much money, and he has too much talent to be bogged down by one singular role.
One has to imagine that a big factor in Dempsey’s decision to return to Major League Soccer was because he wanted to evolve his game a step further. Instead of being a smaller piece of a puzzle in the English Premier League, playing in MLS offered Dempsey the option to be the most talented player on his club.
With that comes the responsibility of shouldering the burden of both playmaking and scoring, two skills Dempsey possesses in spades. Playing with this sort of pressure will not only offer the Sounders more options in attack but it also helps Dempsey prepare for the World Cup in Brazil where he will certainly be counted on to both score and assist.
Once Dempsey's tactical role is firmly established, his performance in MLS can be fairly judged.