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Deuce's move to MLS and Sounders: six reasons it makes sense
by Paul Kennedy, August 2nd, 2013 11:51PM
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TAGS:  americans abroad, england, men's national team, mls


[DEMPSEY WATCH] It all began innocently enough Thursday night with a tweet from a Seattle Sounders fan who happened to have attended the Everton-Juventus match in San Francisco on Wednesday and was heading back home: "Damn, guess who's on my flight to Seattle? So random."

He was at San Francisco International Airport and ran into Clint Dempsey. What on earth could the Tottenham star be doing at SFO in the middle of oreseason? Within a half an hour, Jorge Perea sent out a second tweet: "Well, spoke too soon. He just went to a different gate."

Spoof? Diversion? While the British press, parochial in its outlook, pointed to a Dempsey move from Spurs to Everton, which had just left San Francisco for Los Angeles, the U.S. press by Friday afternoon had gotten the scoop: Indeed, it was Deuce, headed to Seattle to play for MLS's Sounders.

[UPDATE: The Sounders will hold a "special presentation" before the start of their game Saturday against FC Dallas to introduce Dempsey. It's scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PT -- 10:15 p.m PT -- and will be covered on the NBCSN MLS Breakaway show.]

As improbable as it seems, Dempsey to the Sounders makes sense:

He was surplus to requirements, as the British like to say, at Tottenham, where he played one season.

Tottenham has already signed Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho, and the imminent sale of Gareth Bale means that Spurs has all kinds of money to spend on players replace Dempsey, who didn't have a bad first year at White Hart Lane but was certainly viewed as a failure by many fans of the underachieving club. He scored some big goals for Tottenham after his move from Fulham, but only in his first full season at Fulham did he score fewer than the seven league goals he scored for Spurs. Unlike at Fulham, where he was the main man and sorely missed, he was in and out of the starting lineup at Tottenham. It didn't help that a calf injury sidelined him in late winter.

Rumors of Spurs' desire to move Dempsey began over the summer meant that he'd probably have to leave London if he wanted to stay in England.

He didn't have to move his daughter from the international school she was attending when he moved crosstown from Fulham to Tottenham last year. If that was to another city in England or on the continent, it might as well be back home to the United States.

The dream of playing in the UEFA Champions League was over.

Much had been written about Dempsey's stated desire to play in the UEFA Champions League, but that was a way to justify his interest in leaving Fulham last season. At 30, he wasn't going to attract the attention of any of the four EPL clubs in the Champions League this season, so Europe remained a long shot.

Seattle has the money to make the move back to MLS worth his while.

Figures mentioned on the Dempsey deal include a transfer fee of $9 million plus a four-year contract with a salary in the range of $4 million to $8 million a year. Only the Sounders, who average about 40,000 a game, can afford to pay that kind of money in MLS. If everything works out -- notably, if Dempsey remains healthy -- Seattle has the option of opening the upper levels at CenturyLink Field, where the extra 5,000-10,000 fans it might draw could subsidize the deal.

After six years in England, Dempsey will feel at home in Seattle.

Dempsey was in Seattle in June when he captained the USA to a 2-0 win over Panama in World Cup qualifying. Before the game, he had talked about his experience walking around town the night of the Sounders-Vancouver MLS match. "I almost felt like I was in another country the other day when the Sounders game was on," he said. "I was walking to get dinner, and as you walk past a bar, the TV is on and everyone was watching soccer, so for me that was awesome." In the it's-a-small-world category, Perea is marketing manager for Golazo, a Seattle-based sports energy drink that hosted an American Outlaws party the night before the USA-Panama match.

They have great fishing in Seattle ...

  1. Bill Morrison
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 7:18 a.m.
    Good to have Deuce back in the good old USA; he had a lot of good years in England. Love the Sounders organization, fans & stadium...but it's too bad they play on artificial crap.
  1. Gregory Pappas
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.
    "While the British press, parochial in its outlook, pointed to a Dempsey move from Spurs to Everton, which had just left San Francisco for Los Angeles, the U.S. press by Friday afternoon had gotten the scoop: Indeed, it was Deuce, headed to Seattle to play for MLS's Sounders." Sounds definitive to me, but the only sources identified are other news outlets.
  1. David Mont
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 8:55 a.m.
    You only forgot to mention why the move makes no sense: MLS is nowhere near the level of the EPL. It's a huge step backwards, not just for Dempsey, but for the US soccer.
  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 9:20 a.m.
    What is not considered is if this is good for MLS. Is it good for MLS to have an international quality player in its league? Yes it is. Is it good for MLS to evolve into a league of haves and have-nots? No it is not. If all the really good players wind up in Seattle, LA and NY, then the league will die.
  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
    This is a coup for MLS. No doubt. It's a turning point for American players in MLS. the next turning point for MLS is when they sign an international star in his prime. The "haves and haves-not" will never happen in MLS with the presence of a salary cap. The only difference between the best and the worst MLS teams is 2 DPs, and this is not enough to create a big gap in a team sport.
  1. David Mont
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
    Ramon: aren't all top players in Spain in basically just two teams? And in England all the top players are in just 4-5 top teams.
  1. Leland Price
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
    Dempsey gets a great salary. Seattle is family friendly and not as class ridden as England (I always wondered how Dempsey fit into everyday life in England when not playing). Plus, Dempsey can avoid all those long flights to be with the US National team. That improves the atmosphere at the National Team. Finally, if a quality team did want Dempsey, they would have to step up to a higher transfer fee (Liverpool? Roma? with American owners.). Seattle could make out like a bandit to re-sell Dempsey to one of these clubs.
  1. Tom Symonds
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at noon
    I don't really see a footballing reason for his return to MLS, but from a business point of view it makes great sense for him and the MLS. With Beckham gone, there is no true, recognizable, dynamic and expressive face (sorry, Landycakes) for MLS soccer - until now. Dempsey's distinctly American face is certainly known, even to part-time fans, and I expect his visage to be prominently featured over the next four years as MLS prepares to expand.
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
  1. StrikerBob Norman
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.
    Thanks for setting the record straight, David. The MLS is competitive top to bottom. Just look at the goal differentiation. We almost lost to Chivas last week! The Sounders organization is prudent with its money, and it is time they stepped up to compete. As for the turf, there is no other viable solution with our rainy season from September to mid June and two football clubs playing on it. It is state of the art and doesn't cause injury. The Deuce is loose! In Seattle!
  1. Bruce Gowan
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
    As a fan I am not happy. I was proud to have a USMNT player on an EPL team. I think this is a step down as far as soccer is concerned. For Dempsey it may be a family thing. He may also see his future in Europe as limited because he is 30 and as a good but not great player there is not a lot of demand. He was going to sit the bench with an EPL contender so now he plays every minute in MLS.
  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
    What we should not underestimate is the prejudice that still exists in Europe against American (and Mexican) players. He's from Brazil, he's from Portugal--he must be good: America, not so much so. Dempsey scored twenty-three goals two years ago, and in a season in which he was not valued by the coach and injured, he still had twelve goals. And look what happened to Fulham when he left. Yet apparently not a single European club was saying, "He's available; we want a piece of this." If Dempsey were twenty-six or seven, this would be a bad move, but to knock around Europe, with a young family, for the next two years, when he is at the peak of his power but the downside looms, that would be a mistake. Welcome home, Deuce!
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
    MLS sold a 23 year old Dempsey to Fulham for 4 million and bought him back at 30 for 9 million. I'm happy to have Dempsey in MLS, and even happier that an American player will be getting paid DP money, but would we have produced 5 more Clint Dempsey's in the 6 years he was in England if we took Dempsey's transfer fee and invested it directly into youth development? Now that teams are starting to stand on their own two feet, the league has a unique opportunity to take a step away from single entity - and also pay-to-play - with one structural change: allow individual MLS teams to keep transfer fees from player sales. NY and LA have an advantage in signing DP's, but not in developing talent. If Columbus knows they can make money selling players, doesn't that give them a huge incentive to develop players? It is the only way they can compete as an organization in a league that stacks certain teams with the best players. It also breaks the compensation structure that exists in US soccer from pay to sign up players, to get paid to produce players.
  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
    Had Tottenham finished 4th last season I think offloading CD wouldn't have been necessary. Guess Liverpool wasn't interested in CD this time around? Still seems like there would be another team bound for CL play that might have wanted him: Benfica, Marseille, Copenhagen, etc. Clint's agent should have been beating the bushes the past 3 months lining that up. Good catch for MLS but I'm worried the refereeing won't be up to the task of protecting skilled players, though Clint gives as good as he gets. If he gets injured between now and Brazil there will be uncomfortable words from JK.
  1. John Soares
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 3:27 p.m.
    It is GREAT to have Clint in the US. An American earning top dollar in the US... A huge win for the Sounders, MLS, American fans not to mention Clint himself!!!
  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.
    David: "aren't all top players in Spain in basically just two teams?" Precisely. That's why I don't like the idea. It's killing the competitiveness of the Spanish league and hurting their national team program, because the top players still in Spain aren't encountering the top notch competition they need to face to remain sharp. Already we see noises that German football will start dominating. As it happens, the Bundesliga is not quite as lopsided as La Liga or the EPL, and I think that is both why their league teams are doing better in Europe, and their national side is improving.
  1. soccer talk
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 4:30 p.m.
    David this is really great for US soccer w/ The Dempsey signing especially w/ Beckem Euphoria bygone. Who cares what everyone Thinks about the move, only Clint knows the Many reasons which prompts such a change , family.. He is 30 and the EPL.., may not be the Place to conclude his career. He still has IMO A few more productive upswing years of play that Will impact the MLS far more than Everton Ramon I would not worry about the influx of These type move to. Come volume to create Only few dominating MLS teams. Like u said the MLS is competive top to bottom. It would be nice To have more elite players come over in their Prime, that would be a nice dilemma; but don't Panic any time soon.
  1. John Burns
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.
    I admit to being more than a bit confused with this article and the comments following it. Is it a fact that Dempsey has signed with Seattle or is it just an exercise in wishful thinking? Are the money amounts mentioned for transfer fees and his salary in Seattle already signed, sealed and delivered? When he departed MLS for England, he was playing for New England. Do they not retain the rights to him?
  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: August 3, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
    This is a great move for MLS and Seattle. I hope it will be a good move for Dempsey. Maybe now Seattle will be able to compete in the CCL. Eddie Johnson has got be loving this. I do not like how top heavy some of the European leagues are. Spain in particular. England is not much more competitive.

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