USA Soccer: Clint Dempsey Will Need to Take on a Larger Role in 2012
Clint Dempsey put together the greatest year of his career in 2011. Dempsey was able to set the American record for Premier League goals at Fulham and was able to score some tremendous goals with the U.S. national team.
Dempsey's fantastic 2011 year saw the Texan get rewarded with the Honda Player of the Year Award, the first time that Dempsey won it since 2006.
Now at the age of 28, Dempsey is nearing his physical peak. With his skill level continuing to rise, Dempsey has found himself used more at Fulham.
Already in this young Premier League season, Dempsey has scored a remarkable six times, which includes goals against the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea that allowed Fulham to pick up crucial points in their fight against relegation.
This doesn't include the three goals that Dempsey scored for Fulham in both qualifying and group stage play in the Europa League.
What Dempsey has done for Fulham has been fantastic. However, Dempsey will now need to completely replicate the great form that he displayed with Fulham for the United States national team in 2012.
It appears that 2012 will be a critical year for the national team, and they will need Dempsey to have a fantastic season in order to make 2012 a success.
Throughout the second half of 2012, Dempsey started to leave a major impact with the national team. Dempsey scored five goals, three of which came in the Gold Cup.
The two other goals that Dempsey scored came after Jurgen Klinsmann became the manager of the national team.
In both instances where Dempsey scored, the national team won, the only two times that the Yanks have won under Klinsmann since he took over in July.
Currently, the national team has scored just five goals under Klinsmann in seven matches. However, The team has scored four times in the five times that Dempsey has featured for the Americans.
Dempsey has appeared to fit into Klinsmann's system better than nearly every player on the national team, and this only increases his importance.
Dempsey's workload is not helped with the growing age and diminishing role of Landon Donovan. For a decade, Donovan has been the biggest star on the national team and has also made a tremendous offensive impact with the team.
Donovan often made some of the biggest plays for the national team and did deliver when it was needed most.
However, Donovan will be 30 years old. Even though Dempsey is only a year younger, Donovan has played professionally longer than Dempsey and has seen his body go through much more torture than Dempsey.
With a diminished role, Donovan will still help out the national team. However, this means that Dempsey will have a much bigger role as the main star of the national team.
This will only increase with the start of World Cup qualifying in June. Even though the likes of Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala and Jamaica are not the most intimidating sides in the world, these are the most important matches that the Americans will play in nearly a year.
These six matches that the Americans will play will ultimately decide whether the Americans can be a truly competitive side in the 2014 World Cup or if they need more time to develop.
This new year will be ripe for the picking for Dempsey to dominate. He has his chance to do it, the question will be if Dempsey will do so or not.
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