Not soon enough, it seems.
The EPL calendar did not start the way Dempsey had envisioned after his remarkable season with Fulham last year. The best American field player fully expected to be suiting up somewhere other than Craven Cottage to start his league campaign, yet despite a swirling cabal of rumors throughout the summer, Fulham has yet to deal Dempsey anywhere.
As the first week of the EPL season draws to a close and the end of the transfer window looms just over a week-and-a-half away, Dempsey is a superstar in limbo. He's no longer wanted by the team that made him a star and not worth enough on the open market for that team to justify dealing him away.
There is a growing sentiment that this is Dempsey's fault—that he is handling his impending transfer with a lack of class and respect for Fulham.
It's hard to know what else he could do, honestly. Dempsey made it clear at the end of last season that he loved his time at Fulham but he felt the next logical step in his career was to play in the Champions League.
Dempsey hasn't wavered from that one bit in the offseason, except for the rumors he was going to Liverpool, a club with a rich history but one that finished eighth in the league, just one spot above Fulham last season.
An entire summer came and went while rumors swirled about a move from west London, most vociferously calling for an imminent deal to Liverpool during preseason training in late July.
Fulham manager Martin Jol has publicly stated this week that Liverpool has yet to even offer a price for Dempsey despite declaring interest in the striker. The situation could not be any messier, really.
Days before Fulham's first match, things between Dempsey and his boss got incredibly nasty in the press, with the club going on full attack, blaming him for a lack of commitment and accusing him of spreading the rumors he was headed to Liverpool.
Fulham then went out in its first match and netted five goals against Norwich City, a clear statement from the Cottagers that Dempsey will not be needed to fill up the score sheet this season. (Note: The guy scored 23 goals last season, so his presence surely wouldn't hurt.)
Through all this, Dempsey has stayed silent. Despite international media chiding him for not telling his side of the story—for not letting his "truth" come out—Dempsey has kept quiet about everything, seemingly prepared to let the chips fall where they may.
Is Dempsey calling Fulham's bluff by sitting out? Is the club being unrealistic for how much they expect to get in return for a player nearly 30 years old? Will Fulham really think about not shipping Dempsey somewhere else to get at least something in return?
If it doesn't sell him, Fulham will get nothing for Dempsey at the end of the season when his contract expires. Can any club survive with something this big hanging over the entire season?
Possible New Teams
Wherever he is, Dempsey had to look at the score sheet from week one of the EPL season and smile a Texas-sized smile. Not only did Fulham score five—see, they don't need him anymore—but Arsenal and Liverpool were both shut out.
Oh, right, Arsenal is a club that has qualified for the Champions League and suddenly has a bushel full of cash after selling Alex Song to Barcelona and Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
Even with the Gunners reportedly stealing Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin from Liverpool on a one-year loan deal, Dempsey would be a perfect fit in Arsene Wenger's attack. Plus, the addition of Dempsey won't cost nearly as much as what Arsenal got back for either player sold this week.
Getting shut out at home can only serve to make fans nervous in the wake of van Persie's departure. Dempsey would not only be a reactive move to quell fan unrest, it would be a prudent financial and tactical signing as well.
Tottenham—the club booted from Champions League play after Chelsea won last year's tournament to qualify automatically for this season's quest—lost to Newcastle after scoring just one goal, despite ample chances in attack.
With creative midfielder Luka Modric in ostensibly the same situation as Dempsey, Tottenham are a bit shackled until that situation plays out. Still, with American Brad Friedel in net, Tottenham could become the de facto team for Americans to root for should Dempsey join them.
From a tactical standpoint, Dempsey surely would help. From a financial standpoint, he would open up a nearly untapped market for the club.
Chelsea wouldn't be a terrible fit for Dempsey from a style standpoint, but their attacking midfield is very crowded. Manchester United is suddenly the worst fit in the world for the American, and the final English club in Champions League is the EPL champion, Manchester City, which may have become a wild card in this entire process.
City netted three goals against lowly (yet sprightly) Southampton, but all-world striker Sergio Aguero went down with a knee injury that could have him sidelined for the next few weeks, if not longer. Immediately, the thought of Dempsey in a sky-blue kit fluttered across the Internet, TV and surely the phone lines of Dempsey's agent.
The Everton Option
Regardless of where he ends up, it is clear Dempsey cannot be with Fulham much longer.
The truth is, the American hasn't handled this situation perfectly, but there also hasn't been much more he could do than be honest and upfront about his desire to leave, which he was.
Limiting his options to Champions League clubs wasn't terribly fair to Fulham, but he certainly didn't mind when American-owned Liverpool showed interest, so maybe he has backed off that edict in an effort to get into a better situation somewhere—anywhere—else.
If Dempsey just wants out of Fulham and no longer cares if a new club is tied to Champions League this season—seeing potential in future years as enticement enough to go—he should look at Everton as a logical landing spot.
The Toffees finished seventh in the EPL last season after a horrendous start. They employ Tim Howard in goal—the best American player—and rumors have already begun that Landon Donovan will be back in blue in January.
The addition of Dempsey would surely galvanize Everton as the leading American club abroad. Let's not forget the Toffees let Tim Cahill leave for the New York Red Bulls of MLS and sold Jack Rodwell to Manchester City, leaving space on the field and perhaps enough money in the bank to afford Dempsey.
Of course, there is always the prospect Dempsey leaves England, with PSG or another Champions League club with loose purse strings willing to make a deal.
The bad thing for Dempsey, Jol and perhaps most importantly the Fulham fans, is that this situation flooded into the season. The good thing for all involved is that something has to happen very soon. Unless it doesn't happen at all, which means we can go through this whole thing again in January.
The truth is, that would be terrible for everyone.