I've never seen a USA Soccer player look so disappointed after losing a game. Clint Dempsey was in tears after losing to Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final, a game that no one thought the Americans would be in a week earlier.
Even with that, ESPN still found ways to make underhanded comments about his play.
"Even though he has scored in the last three games, he isn't as effective in his midfielder position as Bradley would have liked him to be"
"He just hasn't played well all tournament long."
"Wow, a surprise....... Clint Dempsey is being awarded the Bronze Ball for the third best player in the tournament"
Since Clint Dempsey became a first choice American player, it seems ESPN and their talking heads don't think he deserves the same credit and admiration that Landon Donovon does. Donovan has long been the Golden Boy and face of US Soccer, but it seems that there is strong dislike for Dempsey.
I can only think of few reasons why they would pile all of the team's failures on one man, instead of the man who is considered to be the best player/face of the team.
1) Clint Dempsey is NOT Landon Donovan.
Clint Dempsey comes to play on the biggest stages soccer has to offer. Landon Donovan has always seemed to show up against Grenada for a magical hat trick, but against tougher teams he often faded away until this year Confederations Cup.
Yes, Donovan is the USA's all-time leader scorer, but in the 2006 World Cup he had none. The only goal scored by an American player was by Clint Dempsey. In 115 appearances over nine years, Landon has put the ball in the net 41 times. In 55 CAPS, Dempsey has scored 16, including three in the Confederations Cup.
To ESPN, Donovan is always seemingly effective wherever he plays on the field, while Dempsey (especially when he doesn't score) is an ineffective waste of roster spot. His strengths don't compliment the US Soccer team despite his skills being sorely needed.
2) Clint Dempsey has found success in Europe
Clint Dempsey has become a first team player in the English Premier League on a side that is becoming increasingly formidable. Fulham has found itself in European Competition for the first time since 2002 after gaining their highest ever finish in Top Division Soccer (seventh). Clint has become a complete player to watch in England at this point in his career.
There was a time when a US player merely playing in Europe was a sight to behold. We are in the days where that is clearly over and we want players to go to Europe and play their best. Landon Donovan was a flop the first two times he tried his hand in Europe. (To his credit, he had many other reasons of coming back besides his play). He has excelled in the MLS, often seen as a inferior league to all international top flight leagues. Although he played well and scored four goals at Bayern Munich during a loan transfer, he did not even tally one in league play.
3) Clint Dempsey is not your average soccer player
Dempsey is emotional, raps on the side, and plays with a flair reserved for those who come from a different background. He doesn't say much publicly but is a loose cannon on the field. From his travels in Nacodoghes, Tex. to Fulham in the most well-known league in the world, he has always gone against what others have thought should be the best course for him to take.
Donovan bashes his teammates in books and in public and under performs at an alarming rate. He is never to blame for failures of his team (i.e. World Cup 2006 or the Galaxy's failure to make the playoffs last season) but always is in line to accept the teams' victories as his own. Like so many other soccer players, the California boy with the good looks can do no wrong.
I don't know why ESPN doesn't think we can have two world class players, but they seem to think St. Donovan is the savior of USA. This is coming from a network who didn't know who Charlie Davies was before the Confederations Cup and tried to sell us on DeMarcus Beasley for way too long. It's time for them to finally come out and say what they mean on Dempsey or just try to be more realistic in evaluating his play.
The rest of the world already saw it on display, why try to make us blind to it?