Commentary

Clint Dempsey on Jordan Morris, moving abroad and his national team future

By Paul Kennedy
(@pkedit)

Perhaps no player on the Seattle Sounders knows better what Jordan Morris has been facing in deciding whether he'll join the Sounders or German club Werder Bremen -- Werder says MLS has won out -- than Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey was only two years older than the 21-year-old Morris -- but with three years of pro experience -- when he moved to England to play for Fulham in 2007.

"Everyone has to find his own path," he says of the choice between MLS and Europe, "find what's best for him, in terms of what they want out of life, in terms of what they want out of soccer."

Dempsey is clearly partisan to MLS, grateful for what MLS has offered him -- from a chance to play with the New England Revolution out of Furman University and return in 2013 with the Sounders on the highest salary in MLS history.

"MLS gave me the opportunity to go pro," he said, "which allowed me to break into the national team, allowed me to achieve my dream of playing in a World Cup, allowed me the opportunity to play in Europe, and ultimately the opportunity to come back here."

Dempsey says that moving to a foreign club is in some ways no different than going to college away from home. But he says the time difference makes it much harder to stay in touch with family and the distance makes it harder for them to get over to see him.

"I was lucky," he says. "I had a team like Fulham which gave me an opportunity and had some great years with, some of the best memories of my football career."

Dempsey has never been on the field at the same time as Morris, who has seven caps with the national team, but he has trained with Morris in Seattle during summers.

"He brings energy, athleticism," said Dempsey. "He works really hard. From the few interactions that I've had with him, he's a good kid."

Morris will join a Sounders' attack that's already one of the deepest in MLS with Obafemi Martins, Nelson Valdez and Dempsey, who says it will be up to Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to bring out the best of the team.

"There's always room for attacking players," he said. "It's up to the manager to figure out who he should play and what formation to use."

Dempsey was available for the MLS Media Days because he has not been called into the U.S. national team (currently in training camp) by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann since the Concacaf Cup in October.

Has he been in touch with Klinsmann?

"We've sent texts to each other here and there."

Will he be called back?

"You have to ask him. He's the coach."

Dempsey, who turns 33 in March, says he is realistic about his future with the national team though he admitted he'd love to play in the USA-hosted Copa America -- a tournament he followed as a kid on Spanish-language television.

"I don't worry about it," he said. "All I can do is focus on is playing. If you're not playing well or not fit, you're not going to get an opportunity to be called in. I've enjoyed my time with the national team. I've had a good career. Hopefully, it will continue. It's not in my hands to decide that."

Dempsey said all he can do is put himself in a position to show coaches that he can perform, which he says he did in 2015 for the national team and Seattle.

"I played 10 games and scored nine goals," he said, reeling off his national team stats. "I had a pretty good return for Seattle: in 22 games, 12 goals and 10 assists. Even though I had some injuries, I had good numbers."
7 comments about "Clint Dempsey on Jordan Morris, moving abroad and his national team future".
  1. Raymond Weigand, January 19, 2016 at 8:02 p.m.

    "It's not in my hands to decide that." Sounders like Clint is not too positive on his USMNT future. A younger minded competitor knows that It Is exactly in his hands ... no coach will leave the best guy on the outside looking in. Clinton should start skipping rope and meals - find that trail where champions mind their own business and get prepared to battle.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, January 19, 2016 at 9:11 p.m.

    Absolutely Raymond. That's the grit needed. It's hard to not appreciate the career Deuce has had. But he sounded a little like LD did prior to being left out of Brazil. As a former player and coach and general manager you can't risk uncertainty. We need swashbucklers with staying power. Get determined Clint.

  3. BJ Genovese, January 19, 2016 at 9:12 p.m.

    Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce the poster child of MLS soccer. Jordan Morris. .. College player that brings energy and athletisism to the game of American Socca! Pure and simple. Time will tell. But make no mistake people. This one has been groomed... and groomed for a certain business model.

  4. Ginger Peeler, January 20, 2016 at 1:59 a.m.

    Gentlemen, an athlete knows what his/her body can and cannot do as they age. Old folks like me, in my 70s, sometimes forget, but the body remembers. Even though I often think I can easily do what I did at 30, my body tells me otherwise when I try. But an athlete is aware of that. Clint knows his body is not what it was yesterday, just as Landon did. That's not to say either of them lost their ability/edge. Perhaps they lost half a step, but made up for it in soccer sense. Whatever, Clint is aware that his body can no longer do what it did during his 20s and he accepts that. Preki is one of the few men who continued to play professionally, and very competitively, until he was 42! Exception to the rule. So Clint will do what he feels he needs to do, and if it's not enough for JK, so be it. I hope JK will keep bringing him in, but after his treatment of LD and his non-consideration of Benny Fielhaber, I'm not holding my breath.

  5. Kent James replied, January 20, 2016 at 9:45 a.m.

    Very well put. While a certain amount of self-delusion is good for an athlete (thinking they're a bit better than they are and trying to play up to that vision), it bothers me when people criticize mature, professional athletes for recognizing their physical abilities have declined (like Donovan and now Dempsey). Would it be better if they threw a fit at not being selected? These guys have performed at the highest levels for years; they know what it takes to succeed, and they know themselves better than anyone else does, so I trust that they know how to maximize their own performance.

  6. Wooden Ships, January 20, 2016 at 10:32 a.m.

    Kent and Ginger I agree with what your saying, and they have had great careers and I'm proud of their accomplishments for them and country. However, a coach whose trying to make a team stronger he needs hungry driven players that are fully committed. Benny is über talented, not sure what's been going on there. JK omission for sure in my mind. Along with this discussion, to my knowledge of this issue of aging players and their public comments, with regard to national team, it is unique. While having stellar careers, they are both notorious for disappearing during games. Neither are true forwards that can play just 60, 70, or 80 minutes out of a game. Makes me think of Jozy, but that just gives me a headache.

  7. Kent James replied, January 20, 2016 at 3:29 p.m.

    Players need to be hungry, but hunger is best demonstrated by actions, not what they say. And when players are criticized for stating what should be obvious (Donovan was criticized for saying he could no longer practice many days in a row without a physical decline), that's wrong (and I think dissuades players from being honest; it is better for a player to recognize that they are not 100% (Johnson, v Mexico), then force the coach to observe it. And unfortunately, by criticizing players for being honest about their weaknesses, I think JK encourages players to ignore them rather than address them. At the national team level, I think Donovan has been one of our most consistent performers (and even as a forward, a species who are known for their lack of effort when the ball is not near them, Donovan has always put out the effort. Which is why I never bought the "Donovan no longer has the desire" reason for leaving him off the WC team. I'm actually not a big Dempsey fan (I've always thought he was a bit lazy and arrogant), but I have to admit the dude can pull off some moves when he's on, so I understand why people like him (and coaches keep him on the field). But I agree that he can disappear (v. Mexico, he seemed disinterested in the game and did essentially nothing; but with him, you never know...) Benny should be playing for the USMNT.

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