Clint Dempsey said it was like a dream come true: tie the U.S. national team record for career goals held by Landon Donovan in a big game with his 57th all-time goal clinching Saturday's
2-0 win over Costa Rica in the Gold Cup semifinals before a big contingent of family. But it was even sweeter, given what he's had to overcome.
“It means a lot, especially after
having two heart procedures, being able to fight back and be on the pitch and play at this level and be competitive," he said, "so it feels great. To be able to say that I’m tied with another
player that has scored the most goals in national team history when I’m a kid from Nacogdoches, and to do it with less games and less penalties, it feels great."
At 34, Dempsey has
enjoyed a year, coming back from a heart condition that sidelined him for the Seattle Sounders' 2016 MLS title run.
He scored four goals in two World Cup 2018 qualifiers in March and has
one goal and two assists in two matches since joining the USA for the knockout stage of the Gold Cup.
There was plenty of speculation about Dempsey's future after he was substituted in the second half of the 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in June. He was used
off the bench by Bruce Arena against Costa Rica after starting in the quarterfinals against El Salvador.
"He thought it was going to be a tight game, where he could bring
me on late and I had to open up," Dempsey said of Arena's thinking. "He was right with what he said. It was always going to be a little bit difficult trying to go 90 three days after going 90 at 34. I
was happy with the decision, and glad to come on and make an impact."