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Report: How Dempsey’s move came together, new details on Deuce’s Seattle deal

Aug 5, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT

Clint Dempsey, Joe Roth

Over the course of two weeks, Clint Dempsey helped engineer a move to Seattle. There were two other possibilities, but the Sounders  became his preferred destination. Major League Soccer fostered the deal, aid that included paying the entire $9 million transfer fee to Tottenham Hotspur. His 3.5 year contract gives him a base salary that eclipses David Beckham’s.

Thanks to Grant Wahl’s excellent reporting, we now know how Clint Dempsey ended up in Seattle. We also know more of his contract details, with correcting the length of the deal originally reporting here at ProSoccerTalk. Instead of a four-year contract, Dempsey’s deal is six months shorter, taking him through the 2016 season.

That’s important as if concerns the analysis from Friday. At the time, we discussed Seattle’s $41 million commitment. That’s not the case. It’s actually “only” $24 million, a number reduced by the shorter length of Dempsey’s deal and MLS covering the transfer free.

(Of note: those numbers, reported by SI, are Dempsey’s “base” salary; sources confirm to ProSoccerTalk. Dempsey’s guaranteed annual compensation is $8 million per season, as reported on Friday.)

More from Wahl’s piece, on how the deal started to gain momentum:

MLS commissioner Don Garber sent an e-mail to Seattle’s majority owner, the Hollywood studio chairman Joe Roth. “Call me,” the email read. “It’s important.”

Roth called Garber. “Clint Dempsey is interested in Seattle,” Garber told him. “Are you interested in him?”

At first, Roth thought Garber was playing a practical joke on him. But Garber wasn’t laughing. This was no joke. “Absolutely we’re interested,” Roth told him. “I’ll convince my partners, and you guys do the negotiations.”

Roth had long sought Dempsey, according to, but didn’t think it was possible. Now that the Spurs attacker was within reach, he wasn’t going to miss out.

Eventually, he agreed to put up 35 percent of the money. Co-owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer put up another 32.5 percent, with the team’s other partners making up the rest.

The deal, which allows Dempsey to go on loan this winter, came together over the All-Star break, leading to last week’s frantic events. Dempsey flew from London to Seattle (via San Francisco) on Thursday. The deal was reported done on Friday. He was introduced to the team’s fans on Saturday, with an official unveiling today at CenturyLink.

According to Don Garber, who spoke to for Wahl’s piece, the move completes the most-significant acquisition in MLS history:

“This signing ranks right at the very top … We have been going through a process that started almost 10 years ago … That really started with Landon Donovan … Then it kicked to a higher gear with David Beckham …

“You follow from that Thierry Henry and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who were able to make a difference for us … With Clint, it takes all of this to an even higher level. For the first time we have a world-renowned player who has international experience who’s saying I want to come to Major League Soccer in my prime.”

The piece is worth a read in its entirety, a read that will leave you with a number of lingering questions. One which we’re sure to tackle on this site: How will fans feel about MLS paying the transfer fee for Seattle? That’s something that won’t sit well with many teams in Major League Soccer.

  1. the0verheadwire - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    What an interesting piece by Grant. Did you all also notice the news of Omar Gonzalez being the third LA Designated Player? That’s news in itself. Great goal against Juve the other night as well from him.

    • drewvt6 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      exactly…interesting that Wahl didn’t drop that tidbit as a newsmaker prior to the release of this article. Almost seems like he’s trying to hide it?

  2. mlsconvert88888 - Aug 5, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Yeah, I’d definitely like to hear more about the precedent of the league picking up a transfer fee to benefit a single team. I realize bringing a player like Dempsey to the MLS is great for the league profile, but it does seem like the league is tossing an awfully large bone to Seattle. Especially when you consider this was probably paid for with NYCFC’s expansion fee money.

    Can’t really say if there’s any validity to the allocation order argument, but the fact that it’s muddled enough that people can debate it in the first place is a bummer. It’s like the shady business of changing tie breaker rules mid season last year, these things don’t help the image of the league (although Clint Dempsey hopefully will)

  3. inhokewetrust - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    As I said on an earlier story how can TIM LIER-iky tell the fans of Toronto he will do whatever it takes…yet was talked out of pursuing Clint Dempsy by FELLOW AMERICANS because it would be better for MLS to have Clint play in America??

    • danielofthedale - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      Clint said multiple times during his pressed to day he wanted to come home to America. Toronto is not in America so I seriously doubt he would have considered going to TFC.

      • thejordan08 - Aug 6, 2013 at 5:40 AM

        Um…yes it is. America is a continent (2 of them actually), not a country.

  4. hildezero - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Actually guys, Grant Wahl was the one who broke the news of Gonzalez likely getting a DP contract.

  5. inhokewetrust - Aug 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Dear Dan….from your American friend at sports illustrated
    Dempsey’s perspective had changed by July 18. He was up for coming back to MLS, but the only teams he was interested in playing for were Seattle, Los Angeles and Toronto.

  6. jucam1 - Aug 6, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Two questions: 1. Is Clint still good enough to Merritt that kind of contract in the MLS?… I’m just asking, I know people get nuts about the guy, but he wasn’t good last year with the Spurs. I know the competition isn’t anywhere near the premiership, but he just doesn’t look like the same player to me. 2. Spending major money on Beckham was one thing, but this kind of loot on Clint seems a little much no?… I think the reason why he was basically given to Seattle is because that fan base is great and NBC can advertise Clint and show a crazy fun crowd behind him and the team..

    • bayoor75 - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      I both agree and disagree with jucam1. I disagree because Clint is still a good player and last year was just a blimp due to a crowded TH midfield. I agree because I don’t think Dempsey is good enough to command that kind of money. TH found out the hard way by paying him $7.4 million. Clint’s contributions are usually not apparent until he pops up and scores a goal. If you already have 2 good strikers who will start, Seattle could have better spent the money on a playmaker.

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