Commentary

May Clint Dempsey long play for the USA

By Mike Woitalla

Hard to believe, but as recently as January there was speculation about whether Clint Dempsey would continue to be part of the U.S. national team.

During Tuesday’s 4-0 rout of Costa Rica, Dempsey proved just how valuable, and unique, he is for the USA.

After Dempsey opened the scoring from the penalty spot, he assisted on the next two goals in the USA’s 4-0 rout over Costa Rica. For sure, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood unleashed wonderfully accurate shots from about 18 yards, but neat as well was Dempsey’s prep work.

Before stroking the ball to Jones, Dempsey dribbled from near the center circle into the heart of the Tico defense, cutting away swiftly from Oscar Duarte and skipping past Johnny Acosta. On the Wood’s goal, Dempsey regained his balance to retrieve a deflection off Acosta and spun around to face him again. Dempsey, with a feint one doesn’t see often, froze upright for a second, stomped both his feet, and slipped the ball to Wood.

A flair for the creative and unpredictable -- and lots of important assists and goals have marked Dempsey’s national career since debuting in 2004.

His strike at Soldier Field on Tuesday marked his 50th goal for the USA. Teams he’s scored against include Brazil, England, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Portugal Spain and Mexico -- and pretty much every Concacaf foe. He’s the only American to have scored at three World Cups and is the USA’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualifying with 14.

Dempsey’s Greatest Hits
USA 2 Ghana 1 (World Cup 2014)
USA 2 Portugal 2 (World Cup 2014)
USA 1 Italy 0 (friendly 2012)
USA 1 England 1 (World Cup 2010)
USA 2 Brazil 3 (Confederations Cup 2009)
USA 2 Spain 0 (Confederations Cup 2009)
USA 3 Egypt 0 (Confederations Cup 2009)

But the case for Dempsey isn’t about his laurels. Yes, he turned 33 in March, but last year he scored nine goals in 10 games for the USA.

During the USA’s dismal performance in the 2-0 Copa Centenario opening loss against Colombia, you wouldn’t have guessed he was the second-oldest player on the U.S. team. It was Dempsey who came closest to scoring and whom the Colombians couldn’t stop without fouling. Against Costa Rica, the Wood goal wasn’t the only time Dempsey sparked an attack by retreating to midfield and blazing through into Tico territory. He also served up Gyasi Zardes for a great chance in the first half.

That knack for producing the unexpected, for striking when the USA needs it most, isn’t going to disappear in any time soon for a player as clever as Dempsey.

14 comments about "May Clint Dempsey long play for the USA ".
  1. Wooden Ships, June 8, 2016 at 8:55 a.m.

    It was a fun watch last night. When Deuce is into it, which means the others are and playing well, he is and has been our most important player to get us scores. Consistency with the whole team is necessary for us to compete and have a chance. Deuces work rate is better when the team is possessing better and pressuring. Can JK and the boys continue with that determination through the Copa and then qualifying? I hope so because energy and desire often overcomes opponents with more technical depth. Saturday, lets take it up another notch. Being a former forward, it was foregone, looking at Clint over the ball for the PK, that he was burying that shot. Bravo.

  2. Barry Ulrich, June 8, 2016 at 9:24 a.m.

    You mention "possessing better" in your comments. Wouldn't it be great to see the USMNT with better possession figures? Our team seemed to spend most of the game defending, and got their goals on counter attacks.

  3. Wooden Ships replied, June 8, 2016 at 11 a.m.

    You're right Barry, but JK has gone with mainly the same nucleus of guys, I guess believing we don't have more technical players. I've always somewhat disputed that. However, when this group has their game on they can be good. Good enough realistically to be a Top 20 team, I don't think so. It's coming though. We should, should beat Paraguay and then its back to hoping again probably.

  4. Kent James, June 8, 2016 at 10:57 a.m.

    Dempsey has always been an enigma for me; he has a great touch, good vision, is very creative, and has a knack for putting the ball on goal from almost any position (so he is a true goalscorer). But his attitude has always bothered me a bit; he portrays himself as a 'you don't mess with me' badass, but diving and complaining to the ref are a big part of his game (and I hate them both). He also doesn't seem to have a high work rate (tolerable in a brilliant forward, but otherwise frustrating) and in national team games prior to this tournament, he often seemed uninterested. He doesn't have great speed, but he does play well as a withdrawn forward. And this tournament thus far, he's been the driving force behind our offense. I hope he can keep it up!

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, June 8, 2016 at 6:57 p.m.

    Dempsey is the target of persistent infringement even though the refs don't enforce the Law. On top of that he is double and triple teamed. That is what is creating space for our attack. I don't think some people realize the constant pushing, holding, and hacking that forwards have to deal with in professional soccer. The refs have to use common sense and be selective. If they blew the whistle every time someone stuck out their arm, there would be no run of play. Players can't help but get frustrated and angry, but they cannot retaliate, because that will get called every time.

  6. P R, June 8, 2016 at 11:01 a.m.

    "Before stroking the ball to Jones" Say what? Dempsey hardly "stroked" the ball to Jones, he had a long touch that went closer to his teammate, so Clint backed off and let Jones take it. If it was meant to be a pass, it was much too soft to be considered a well placed pass.

  7. Edgar Soudek, June 8, 2016 at 2:39 p.m.

    Imagine what the USA might have, could have, would have achieved in the 2014
    World Cup pairing Dempsey and Donovan, if dumbshit Klinskraut hadn't left Donovan at home, out of rancor and jealousy...

  8. Delroy Wallace, June 8, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

    Dempsey should be dropped! Period! He has lost it. He did not assist on the goal Jermaine Jones scored, he lost possession and the ball rolled to Jones who finished well. Enough of this poor evaluating of the team. The team is good enough for "weak" opponents like Costa Rica and not good enough for better teams as Mexico and Columbia.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 2:01 a.m.

    Costa Rica finished in the top 8 at the 2014 finals, punching above their weight, surely, but I don't consider them a "weak" team.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 2:04 a.m.

    Technically they didn't lose at the quarterfinals. Netherlands advanced on the penalty kick tie breaker.

  11. schultz rockne, June 8, 2016 at 5:09 p.m.

    Better: 'May the Next Clint Dempsey Please Step Forward!' (cuz our damaged system certainly ain't developing/scouting/revealing him)

  12. beautiful game, June 8, 2016 at 9:38 p.m.

    Whopping a mediocre opponent is no step forward...the work rate in the second half was sketchy...nice winning rebound, but let's see what happens against Paraguay which exposed the Colombian defense.

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, June 9, 2016 at 2:07 a.m.

    A mediocre performance perhaps, but not a mediocre opponent.

  14. Kevin Sims, June 9, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    The mercurial Dempsey does not fit the mold. Moments of brilliance litter periods of clumsiness and seemingly little work. He will botch something that looks easy ... and then turn a moment into a goal when one appears not in the cards. All scorers are a bit like that; but he gets results better than anybody else we have around right now. That may seem sad, but never underestimate the value of one who simply makes goals happen ... plenty of players who look more the part don't make goals happen.

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