In my most recent article, I stressed the importance of our American internationals playing their club football in Europe. In lieu of this, I would like to track the statuses of both the American players currently abroad, and also those who could be going abroad this summer. I will compose a series of mini-articles, each of which I will dedicate to a different individual. For previous articles pertaining to “Americans Abroad,” see “Jozy Altidore to Olympiacos” and “Eddie Johnson Revival.” I will begin with Clint Dempsey.
Clint Dempsey is one of the most successful United States footballers currently playing in Europe. He plays his club football for Fulham FC of the English Premier League. His tenure at Craven Cottage has been fantastic, to say the least.
After only two and a half years abroad, Dempsey has established himself as a regular in the Fulham starting XI and as one of the club’s top performers. Alternating between positions on the flank and up top as a striker, Dempsey tallied seven goals this past season, leading the Cottagers in scoring. Two of these goals came in a 2-2 tie against powerhouse Chelsea, and another two in a 3-1 victory away at Manchester City. These two enormous results proved crucial in a season where the Cottagers finished seventh place by two points, earning the last English spot for the next season’s Europa League. This is only the second time in club history that Fulham has qualified for Europe.
While willing Fulham to a stellar season, Dempsey has made a name for himself in England, one other clubs have certainly recognized. Recent reports indicate that Dempsey has rejected a contract extension at the Cottage, thus indicating that he, too, is aware of his growing popularity. After next season, Deuce will be free of his contract with Fulham and most likely looking to sign with a bigger club.
Dempsey’s success in England has certainly affected his international play, most notably his performance in the recent Confederations Cup this summer. While ineffective in the United States’ first two losses against Italy and Brazil, the Texas native was able to spark a seemingly improbable turnaround for the USA, leading his country to the tournament finals by scoring in each of their final three games. Ultimately, Dempsey was the recipient of the tournament’s bronze ball, the award given to the third best player in the competition.
With such great success in both England and on the international stage, Dempsey is blooming with confidence, perhaps his best asset on the pitch. While not a dominant force in the game nor a consistent goal-scorer, Dempsey is on the field, as USA coach Bob Bradley says, “to provide moments of brilliance.” And brilliant he certainly is becoming. Fortunately, for Dempsey, there could not have been a better time for him to burst onto the world football scene as he is doing now. This upcoming season, with another campaign in England, European competition, and the World Cup less than a year away, Clint Dempsey has a world of opportunity to take his game to the next level.