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Why Clint Dempsey’s move to Seattle won’t affect the US national team

Aug 3, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore AP

Fans of US soccer can hardly contain their excitement.

Many woke up this morning wondering if today the Clint Dempsey to Seattle Sounders transfer will officially be confirmed.

Last night ProSoccerTalk’s sources told us a deal has been sealed for Dempsey to head to the Emerald City.

The figures involved have been leaked and Dempsey will likely become the best paid player in league history, so all eyes will be on Seattle this evening with Dempsey expected to be unveiled at CenturyLink Field before the league game with FC Dallas.

(MORE: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC)

But with Dempsey’s move from the Premier League to Major League Soccer, should fans of the USMNT be rejoicing or slightly worried?

That question has been flying around in the last 24 hours, almost as much as Dempsey himself.

So, the US national team captain is set to head back to his homeland and become the figurehead of the league’s best supported franchise. The World Cup in Brazil is less than 12 months away, and even the most ardent fan of MLS is questioning this decision from Dempsey.

Will the USA suffer from Dempsey’s switch to MLS?

I really don’t think this will have an impact on Dempsey’s role with the US, at all. Look, Jurgen Klinsmann loves having national team stars playing for the best teams in Europe against top teams week in, week out.

But Dempsey only started 22 league games last season and only played the full 90 minutes 11 times. And with the arrival of Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli in the last week, Dempsey wasn’t going to be a starter at Spurs. So he should find somewhere to play regularly, where he is guaranteed to be the leader and take control of games.

He will do that in Seattle and in MLS. Yes, there’s a gulf in class between the PL and MLS. But why would Clint want to be stuck on the bench at Spurs in the lead up to the biggest tournament of his career?

Some would argue Klinsmann has been reluctant to use players from Major League Soccer in starting roles with the national team. I’d agree. But Klinsmann’s attitude has shifted in recent months.

(MORE: Dempsey to Seattle in $9 million move, plus $8 million salary)

The USA’s central defensive partnership for the foreseeable future will be made up of MLS defenders Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson. Graham Zusi from Sporting KC has become a starter out wide, Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy is back in. While MLSers Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans and Brad Davis have all featured prominently in recent World Cup qualifiers.

The tide is turning, Klinsmann obviously doesn’t see MLS as being vastly inferior to the top European leagues as a breeding ground for his national team.

Look, Dempsey has obviously spoken to Klinsmann about this move. And the German coach will have almost certainly given it the go ahead because there’s no way Deuce would risk his position as USMNT captain and starter for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The level of play in MLS isn’t as high as the Premier League, but Dempsey won’t turn into a bad player because he’s scoring against Chivas USA instead of Chelsea.

Fans of Major League Soccer and the US national team should rejoice. Dempsey is coming home and it won’t effect the Yanks chances of World Cup qualification or in Brazil itself next summer.

Those who lambast Dempsey for leaving Tottenham may be upset to see one of the USA’s top players throwing the towel in because he won’t be a starter in the Premier League. I get it. But Dempsey has had seven seasons as a regular in England, scoring 72 goals in 268 appearances. He’s done his bit to raise the profile of American players in Europe. He has nothing to prove to anyone.

Now it’s time for Deuce to come home. #DempseyWatch is almost over.

More: Where does Clint Dempsey’s signing rank in MLS Designated Player history?

More: Official, Tottenham confirm sale of Clint Dempsey to MLS

More: Confirmed, Clint Dempsey to sign with Seattle Sounders FC

More: Dempsey to Seattle in $9 million move, plus $8 million salary

  1. whordy - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Dempsey still coulda started at most teams in the EPL and it would have been a better move to do so. A full season as a starter in the EPL would have prepared him much more than beating up on the Philly’s and Tonotos of the world.

    • boscoesworld - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Speaking of “beating” hopefully he can steer clear of that thug from Philly that took Shea out!!

  2. awsnavely - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    To say that Dempsey has nothing to prove is almost laughable. He proved he was a solid player at a mid level club (like many Americans before him) and when the move came to a contender (who ended up finishing in 5th), he couldn’t consistently break through. Goals for Fulham are nice, they really are. Goals for Spurs are nicer, especially against Man U and the gang. But Clint didn’t go to Tottenham to prove he’s a solid, mid-level player. He wanted to play Champion’s League and he wanted to be a starter. I don’t think his play will drop off dramatically by switching to MLS, but to say he has nothing to prove anymore is either delusion or just dishonest journalism. Quit kidding yourself.

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      I hear your point. Dempsey scored goals for two Premier League teams and flew the flag for Americans playing in Europe.

      He’s now the USMNT captain and wants to play regularly.

      What he proved to us is that he can cut it in the Premier League. So why move to Everton/Liverpool or some other top 10 team to carry on being a solid player for a slightly above average team.

      Unless Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United came in for him (which wasn’t going to happen) he might as well be the main man in an MLS side and play regularly.

      He didn’t make it to the Champions League but he gave it a go at Spurs. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      • mfmaxpower - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        One injury-filled season doesn’t count as giving it a go at Spurs. That I think is why so many of us are disappointed.

        I get that he wants to play regularly. But a) everyone wants play regularly; b) the best athletes want to prove themselves against the best, and that includes beating out teammates for playing time; c) he’s been USMNT captain after not playing regularly, and that likely wouldn’t have changed.

        Yes, he proved he could cut it in the Premier League, but he didn’t prove that he could cut it at a top team. I thought Deuce wouldn’t have given up on that so quickly.

        Plus, even cutting it at Everton/Liverpool would go down as a step above Fulham. When you’re an athlete and passionate about sport, these things matter.

        Taking a step down for a bigger paycheck is simply not what I think Deuce fans thought he was all about. I hope things work out for him but this is a disappointing move.

      • awsnavely - Aug 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        I agree with you on your points. But to say there’s “nothing left to prove” no matter how successful he was is still stupid, because he didn’t prove what he wanted to prove at the end of the day. I know that Dempsey missed his chance when Spurs finished 5th last year, and that at most he could stay on at Tottenham for another couple seasons or move to France or Turkey to try for Champions League play. But nothing left to prove as a defense for his return to MLS? Stupid. Playing at home, lots of money, security for the future and a long term contract? Those are all perfectly acceptable reasons. That he somehow has “nothing left to prove?” Nope.

  3. mort316 - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    The biggest thing is Clint was not the first choice for the Spurs. He is now the main guy for the Sounders. What people are not seeing is that the MLS is growing, and I will be a great move for him. After the MLS season I am sure Clint will be going on loan back to the EPL. Just like this post said their is no way he made this decision with out talking to JK. All in all I think this is a great move for MLS and Clint.

  4. phillyhoosier - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I think everybody agrees he needs to be playing 90 minutes week in and week out. He’ll get that in Seattle for sure. However, as a player, he’d have been much better off getting it at a place like West Ham or Aston Villa.

  5. talgrath - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    I know a lot of people think that the difference between the EPL and MLS is a vast, untraversable canyon, but the fact of the matter is that isn’t the case anymore. Did any of you watch, really watch Wigan’s games last year? I would say that the top teams in MLS could have beaten Wigan on a consistent basis. I’d basically say the best MLS teams are somewhere near equivalent to or even better than a low level EPL side. The distance between The Sounders and the Spurs is vast, but if Dempsey wasn’t going to be able to get consistent playing time at a decent European club, taking the Sounders’ offer is probably a lot better situation.

  6. benschenko - Aug 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    You are all posting on here as if Dempseys only options were bench at Spurs or MLS. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room of a move to another mid level club (like Everton) where he would face stiff competition week in and week out. And the difference between MLS and EPL is still huge. If an MLS team had to play the schedule Wigan had last year they would have been way worse. You fail to factor in the lack of depth MLS teams have. Wigan played nearly 50 games last season. NO MLS team could sustain that.

    I would have liked this move after the World Cup but not right now.

    Oh and reports are the Jurgen is not happy about this move.

  7. oojay88 - Aug 4, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    Reblogged this on oojay88's haven.

  8. hildezero - Aug 8, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Playing in the MLS won’t affect him playing with the US, I mean, he is the best player US Soccer has.

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