By playing for five coaches in five years, in relegation battles as well as a European final, Clint Dempsey has set new benchmarks for American players.
Last month he broke Brian McBride's goalscoring for an American in Europe and on Monday helped spark a comeback that pushed Fulham past Arsenal, 2-1, in a mesmerizing Premier League match. With Landon Donovan having joined Everton for a second loan spell, attention has focused on the two U.S. teammates and their divergent paths in the pro game.
Dempsey, 28, left MLS in 2007 after playing three seasons with New England. Aside from brief stops with clubs in Germany and England, Donovan has been an MLS player since 2001. “There’s more pressure on you game in and game out,” Dempsey has said of the different leagues. “It’s such a roller coaster. If you go on a bad run of form, after five or six games, you can find your manager fired. That’s something I didn’t see in MLS.”
With 39 goals since he arrived in England, there should be suitors for his services should he decide to change clubs. His Fulham contract has 18 months to run and as a pro in the prime of his career he knows his next contract could be the last one of major money. “You never know your road in life, but, hopefully, Champions League is in the cards for me,” he says.