You’ve heard the previous noticed about Clint Dempsey a thousand instances by now, the one handed right down to us by the grizzled Bruce Arena, a testomony to the ingenuity and bravado of the stone-faced striker from Texas: “He tries sh*t.” As far as three-word descriptors go, it’s a transferring praise, and an apt phrase for a one-of-a-kind participant within the annals of American soccer.
But it really obscures an essential fact about Dempsey: The famously unpredictable attacker is definitely fairly dependable, particularly in relation to huge moments.
Thursday evening, Dempsey’s brace led Seattle to an Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal victory in opposition to Vancouver. He raised his profession postseason tallies to six objectives and three badists in 7 profession MLS playoff campaigns, alongside his already-sterling 71 and 41 in 172 profession regular-season video games. Few gamers within the league have earned extra of a proper to be trusted when a purpose completely, positively needs to be dug out, as was the case for the Sounders in Leg 2 of that repeatedly cagey collection.
Dempsey is 34 now, and he stays probably the most reliable performer within the clutch for each membership and nation, regardless of months – possibly years – of speak about his advancing years and growing old legs and the awkward questions dealing with him and the Sounders as that historic Designated Player contract of his winds in the direction of its finish.
The litany is even acquainted to us: His future is unsure. He may need to simply accept a supersub function. This is admittedly Nico Lodeiro’s workforce now. His membership lastly gained the mbadive one final 12 months – with out him, because of that coronary heart situation that raised the specter of compelled retirement, nonetheless briefly. His US nationwide workforce didn’t qualify for Russia 2018 in probably the most humiliating style possible. And in fact, he’s not getting any youthful.
ESPNFC’s headline blared out the encapsulated model this week: “Time is running out for Clint Dempsey to make his mark in MLS Cup playoffs.”
This isn’t really a brand new phenomenon for the child who honed his cheeky, swaggering type of play on the hardscrabble, sun-baked fields and trailer-park driveways of East Texas. He’s spoken vividly over time of the race in opposition to time, the urgency of being the one on the periphery, a clock over his shoulder as he hustles to get seen, hustles to show that he’s definitely worth the spot, hustles to remain king of the hill within the face of relentless competitors and advancing age.
From Nacogdoches to Furman to New England to Fulham to Tottenham to Puget Sound, with memorable diversions to Germany and South Africa and Brazil. Roaming the correct flank in midfield, main the road, drifting within the gap, out and in of his most well-liked place, out and in of the beginning XI.
Somehow he’s gotten his palms on practically all the things his childhood self might’ve dreamed of and extra, and nonetheless retains that stressed, furtive, barely offended aura – nonetheless the outsider, at the same time as a million-dollar man. Even with a championship ring sitting on the desktop at dwelling.
“He didn’t get to be a part of the run to the MLS Cup last year, one that you can tell just hurt him, and one that he didn’t really feel was his,” stated former USMNT colleague Stu Holden throughout the remaining moments of Thursday’s FS1 broadcast. “So he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, wanting to make sure he leads this team to back-to-back championships.”
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer boiled it down a bit additional.
“He’s been through a lot. And he’s hungry. He’s hungry.”
Packed with expertise, however in some way nonetheless missing in killer intuition, Seattle let the Whitecaps grasp round on this collection far longer than they deserved to. Showing treasured little ambition or attacking cohesion, Vancouver hardly ever appeared threatening to the defending champs, however they remained unbowed because the minutes ticked away in Leg 2, dustily defiant like a bloodied bull trotting across the ring.
Seattle wanted a better, a matador. And nobody else within the constructing can do the job like Deuce.
As our personal Sam Stejskal reported earlier this season, the Sounders have an possibility 12 months on Dempsey in 2018. They might verify that field enthusiastically, or maybe may attempt to speak him right down to a smaller, extra budget-friendly wage quantity. Some have even raised the potential for him calling time on his profession altogether – although that prospect appeared distant, even faintly ludicrous beneath the wet Seattle skies on Thursday, as he but once more did what he does finest.
“While they’ve been in negotiations, we were told yesterday by Seattle that they have ‘a warm, fuzzy feeling’ about him coming back next year,” famous Holden, “which makes it appear – and we all know they’ve been in superior discussions – however that Clint Dempsey can be again right here subsequent season. At what quantity, we have no idea, however that’s excellent news and he’s definitely proving his price, but once more, to this franchise.
“When you need him, he has turned up.”
There’s hardly anybody like Deuce – in MLS, in a Sounders uniform, in US soccer historical past. And it hardly looks like he’s completed making noise.
Let’s get pleasure from it whereas it lasts.