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
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 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 ...