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Confirmed: Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC

Aug 2, 2013, 6:56 PM EDT

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SEATTLE — Sources have independently confirmed to NBC ProSoccerTalk that United States national team striker Clint Dempsey will sign with Seattle Sounders FC. Doug McIntyre of ESPNFC broke the news on Friday, and NBC’s sources said that Dempsey would be revealed as a Sounders player on Saturday.

The Sounders declined to comment on the multiple reports of Dempsey’s signing on Friday.

Rumors of the deal began circulating on Thursday afternoon, when he was spotted in the San Francisco airport:

Dempsey spoke highly of the atmosphere in Seattle during the week of the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Panama in a World Cup qualifier on June 11. In his pre-match press conference with head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, he said:

I’m good friends with Eddie Johnson. He always tells me about what it’s like, playing here and playing in front of the fans and just how it’s an atmosphere that’s comparable to how it is in Europe. It’s great to see because I remember when I first started out in the MLS, things weren’t like that. It’s great to see that the game is building and there are markets like this that people have so much passion for the game. I almost feel like I was in another country the other day, when the Seattle Sounders game was on while I was walking to get dinner. Just as you walk past the bar, you see that the TV’s on, and everybody’s watching soccer. For me, that was awesome. So I’m happy to play here and look forward to the game and feeling what that atmosphere will be like.

Likely instrumental in this deal, as Dempsey mentioned, is the player’s friendship with Eddie Johnson. They played together at Fulham in the Premier League, as well as being teammates with the U.S. since 2004.

Johnson played it cool on Twitter on Thursday, but his post is now starting to look like misdirection — or perhaps “spilling the beans” while claiming to have not spilled the beans yet.

Dempsey has spoken often of his desire to play at the highest level possible, but while Seattle may not exactly be under the shining lights of the UEFA Champions League, the Sounders do average more than 40,000 fans per game, the highest in MLS.

  1. mkbryant3 - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Holy F***!! Man. I just got chills. Awesome. For a longtime fan of the MLS, this is up there with Gretzky to LA. What a great reward for the awesome Sounders fans. I’m an Earthquakes fan, but the Sounders market has really been the booster rocket to this next stage of growth we are seeing in MLS. Like Grant Wahl tweeted, a lot of cool things are happening in MLS these days. So stoked.

  2. nygiantstones - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    What the what??!! Dang, I’m torn on this one big time. Seattle resident, go to games, love this move on a selfish Seattle level. But on a National level, I watch EPL matches every week and loved seeing Dempsey play over there at a high level. He sent the message that the Americans had some class. Now he’s come to MLS, which is a pretty huge step down for a 30 year old striker, and this doesn’t seem to fit at all into the usual levels of quality to which he has been accustomed. Has his game been degraded that much? Is this a one year deal before he goes back to the EPL? This is a strange move to me.

  3. danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Any idea on what the Sounders gave up to Portland to move to the number one spot in the allocation list or did MLS change the rules like they are apt to do to make this happen?

    • talgrath - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      There’s no confirmation the deal actually happened…yet. However, my guess would be that the Sounders would give them a draft pick and possibly some cash.

      • danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:37 PM

        I would think for Portland to hand over the best one of the three best American players to their blood rival they would need more than a mid to late first round draft pick and some allocation money. I would want Yedlin or another high caliber starter at the least.

      • the0verheadwire - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        My (fairly unknowledgable) understanding is that Designated Players don’t have to go through allocation.

      • danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:43 PM

        @the0verheadwire, well that would settle that then. Thanks for the info.

      • talgrath - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:47 PM

        Ah yes, I forgot. Allocation rules are kind of complicated, my fault.

    • smokeisms - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:10 PM

      Dempsey will be a DP and as such not subject to the allocation order. Portland is out of luck on this one.

  4. bman0921 - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    It’s a damn shame. Going to miss watching Dempsey playing in the best league in the world

  5. bishopofblunder - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I still don’t believe it (yet).

  6. cameltoews - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    How is this a good move for Clint? He goes from Tottenham to Seattle? No disrespect to the team or their fans but the best American player should be playing in the best league.

    • talgrath - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      The problem is that Tottenham may have had him riding the bench, at the very least he wasn’t a guaranteed starter. Klinsmann has made it pretty clear that he wants you to make regular appearances for your team, ideally as a starter. With the Sounders, Dempsey is a guaranteed starter for the next few years, at least. The Sounders are also usually a quality team in MLS (yes, they’re 7th in the west after a rough start, but they have 2+ games in hand against everyone else in the west); he likely also picked up a better paycheck, the Sounders have a DP spot open to spend as much as they like on him.

    • danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      It can be good for him from a couple of different ways. One is he will be a starter over a bench player and most players like that. Another way to look at is he wants to be fresh for the world cup. He will have the winter off and will as rested as he could be for the World Cup. If he stayed in England he would be going on about two years without a break by the time the world cup comes and goes.

      Still another way to look at this that Clint knows what his level is and would rather give back to MLS and American soccer than be on teams that will only chase the Europa League. He is not now playing in the Champions League and he will not in the future if he stays in England. So why not come and give back to MLS, the league that helped give you everything you have now. And he can be an ambassador for soccer in the US by being on the field every weekend here in MLS. Show that players still near there peak are willing to play in the MLS. It is a great show of growth by MLS too.

      • soccerjohn - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        “Clint knows what his level is and would rather give back to MLS and American soccer than be on teams that will only chase the Europa League” –@danielofthedale

        This.Deuce took a chance on himself and found that he’s considered almost, but not quite, good enough to start for a CL side. He was pretty clearly going to come off the bench at Spurs or get shunted to a lesser side. He opted for fantastic wages and job security to play for arguably the best MLS city.

        All that, and he gets to play with a friend who, if he raises his game any more, will contend for a starting position on the MNT. And you think it’ll hurt that EJ and Deuce will form an understanding while practicing and playing together night in and night out?

        Did not see this coming. And guess what? I live in Virginia but I’ll be searching for Sounders games now instead of Spurs’ games. I’m decent officiating away from being a serious MLS fan.

  7. hildezero - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    @talgrath

    You’re right, if Seattle got him, then they probably did a move like you said. This is a great move for the MLS and especially Seattle. This move can go both ways as good or bad move for Clint.

    Good move: this probably happened, because he might of been offered a lot of money in salary and he’ll get playing time which is something he wants. Klinsy says it’s very important for players to get minutes so they can get called up.

    Bad move: It’s the obvious, the Premier League is better than the MLS by a lot and Spurs are a better team than Seattle by a lot also, so this is a big step down for him in his club career.

    All in all, let’s hope it just turns out great for him, which I personally wanted him to go to Everton because he would be a good fit.

    • talgrath - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      It’s hard to know for sure, given that negotiations like this are necessarily secretive in nature, but if all Dempsey was getting were offers to play for lower end of the table European sides, the Sounders make more sense. The Sounders have gone to the post season each season of their existence, The difference between a relegation endangered European side and a top MLS side these days is practically nil.

    • the0verheadwire - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      I would have liked to see him at Everton too just because it gives me a reason to wake up on Saturdays to watch two USMNT on the same team playing (Not sure Shea and Edu and Cameron will get on each game). I love Tim Howard but I’m not waking up at 4am to not watch him but for maybe three plays. So I guess this means I’m a Sunderland and Stoke fan now, with Toffees and Aston Villa on the side. I will actively root against Spurs now though.

  8. cameltoews - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    I just think that playing against less talented competition will ultimately hurt him in his talent level. I know he probably was not in the plans for the Spurs but I’m sure another EPL team would have loved his services. I am a huge fan of the USMNT and I just want who I think is our best player right now playing against top competition.

  9. bellerophon30 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    If this is true, and it’s a big IF….this sucks. To go from being the 12th man on a top five EPL team to MLS is a pretty big drop. A career defining drop. I’m not saying this makes him washed up, but my God. AVB must have told him something really bad if Deuce felt that this was his best play, especially with Spurs having Europa League play and needing that kind of depth.

    And why here, and not one of the Texas teams? That’s what makes this all a little “off”. When he signs, that’s when I’ll believe it.

    • danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      I think the why Seattle is easy. One he is really good friends with Eddie Johnson. Two Seattle has to be the best crowd to play in front of (or co-best with Portland). Three Seattle probably said how many Brinks Trucks would you like, Dallas and Houston don’t have that kind of financial clout.

      • bellerophon30 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:30 PM

        True, money does talk loudly. But the transfer window is open for four more weeks, why not try for another EPL team? Having read a bit more, I see why he’s leaving Spurs, the new signings (especially Soldado) plus Levy’s intransigence about selling Bale means a logjam in midfield and supporting striker.

        I just have a hard time seeing why he dropped down this far, with so much time left in the window. I wish him well, I’ll always be a Clint supporter of course.

        And now, unless I’m mistaken, doesn’t that make Jozy the only forward/midfielder American in the EPL? Yikes. Well aside from Brek Shea and his rehabbing knee (God Bless Stuart Holden).

  10. charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    I love this.
    Big US Soccer fan..and I don’t mean rooting for Everton.
    Big Sounders’s fan.
    And Biggest fan of all the guys that loved CD and hated LD because he played in England and LD just played in MLS having to either hate CD now or EAT CROW

    • danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      There is no crow to be eaten by those of us who criticized Landon for not going to Europe and us saying that Clint was the better player since he proved his worth in England over many seasons. This is just Clint saying that he is not a fit in Spurs and he would rather come back to MLS than play for another team in England that is not going to any places he has never been.

      • charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:14 PM

        I am not speaking to you specificly because I have no idea if you hated Landon and rated him way to low becaise if the irrational hate.

        But WRONG. Corw should be eaten by many…or they can hate Dempsey now.

  11. jpan007 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Please be true

  12. dfstell - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Kind of a bummer to be honest. For one thing, I liked actually getting to watch him play in the EPL. Those games were on in the morning and I’d rather watch those games than stay up until midnight to watch Sounders games.

    For another, I think this means we’ve probably seen the best of him as a player. He might not decline in MLS, but playing against worse players in practice and in games won’t make him grow either.

    But…..I’m all for guys making the most money they can. Good for him.

  13. dxkraus - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    I think his timing is perfect. He gets to come back to the US, where his market value far exceeds what playing in Europe would bring him. It dramatically strengthens Seattle and is the type of move the organization needed to make with the large profits from attendance, and whatever they get in gear sales.

    And, the league gains prestige as they continue to work to leverage their successes. No one would argue that MLS is in the same category as the top 5 European leagues, but they are quite underrated. You have to remember that Europeans like to stick it in the eye of Americans and much of that condescension results from that. You can’t look at things like the MLS All-Star game and think that’s representative of the competition in the league. Those guys had zero time to work together and it takes a long time to get a team working in harmony.

    The world is increasingly globalized and the US is the center of that globalization. As those trends continue over the years, it is highly probable that, within the next 30 – 40 years, the US will become one of the top 2 – 3 soccer markets in the world.

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