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On Clint Dempsey, one man as yet unheard from: U.S. national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann

Aug 6, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

Belgium v United States Getty Images

As the Clint Dempsey news boulder continues to roll downhill, we have now heard from the U.S. international himself.  We’ve heard from the Sounders suits about how the blockbuster got stitched together. The chattering class has weighed in, and then some.

We’ve even heard from MLS, kind of anyway, as they walk us back along the trail to point out hidden little rules that were always there, apparently.

The one figure still to be heard from in all this: U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann (pictured).

We won’t for a while, either. A U.S. Soccer spokesman told me Tuesday that Klinsmann is vacationing abroad with his family. He will meet up with the team this weekend in Serbia ahead of next week’s match in Sarajevo. So, we’ll probably hear whatever Klinsmann has to say by Sunday or Monday. (The roster will be announced one of those days, too, according to U.S. Soccer.)

What the boss says about this is meaningful, because Dempsey is the U.S. captain and previously the walking, talking, emotional embodiment of what Klinsmann desired as the very bedrock of his program: the constant, dogged pursuit of individual betterment.

Dempsey long ago left the MLS nest for Fulham, with no guarantees. Points proven there, he left the Fulham nest for Tottenham, where the competition for spots reached another level. That’s what Klinsmann wanted from all his U.S. men, that same hard-driving ambition.

So, what will Klinsmann say now?

Here’s what ESPN’s Taylor Twellman had to say on the subject during Sunday’s Soccer Today radio show/podcast (disclosure: it’s a show I co-host):

Publicly he cannot say anything. He cannot come out and say ‘This is a step back for Clint Dempsey’s his career.’ But we know what Jurgen he has said before about going to Europe and pushing yourself, about challenging yourself, being in those spots where you are not guaranteed a [starting] spot.”

By the way, remember that Twellman played alongside Dempsey in New England. Twellman noted that Dempsey “hated” playing on artificial turf. Well, he’s on the stuff in Seattle, perhaps a better version that Gillette Stadium had a few years back. Still, it’s a great point, and something to monitor going forward.

(MORE: Another view of how Dempsey’s move could impact the national team)

  1. el timo - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    If Juergen is smart, smart as Dempsey, he’ll see (and say) that the most important impact of Clint’s move on the USMNT is the long-term one: a stronger MLS, both on the field and young fannies in the seats, will ultimately produce a stronger MNT. Clint will bring tons more American fans to the field and to the television. And what they’ll get to see will be a player who gets every drop of juice out of his God-given abilities. Oh, and in the short-term, (for the short-sighted among us,) he’ll play 90 minutes a game at Seattle til November, gather himself, then “get up to speed” for the World Cup in Jan-Feb at, say, Tottenham.

    • lyleoross - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Dempsey is smart? I think the word is inconsistent. Go back and review what happened last year when he forced the move to Tottenham. Maybe you can say he ran out of guts. Or that he couldn’t take the heat. But his actions here are very inconsistent with what he’s said and done in the past. Now, if you’re trying to say he’s greedy, well, yeah, he seems to have nicked a pretty good deal with incentives. I know that we often equate making money with smarts, and by that measure, Clint has been fairly smart.

      JK will take the safe route he will softly support the move, and then Clint will be moved away from being a key component of the MNT, the same as Donovan was when he whined. JK is building a system and philosophy. Dempsey just did a 180 on that. Too bad.

      JK is responsible for driving the MNT to the next level. Stepping back to a less competitive environment for money doesn’t do that. Clint should have gone for a European transfer that would give him more playing time. And for the crazies here saying that Stoke, Fulham, Everton etc. are less choices than the MLS, I’ll match the MLS against any second tier team in England any day.

      • busterhawkins - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        It’s all good for you to sit here and judge someone else, just make sure you can hold yourself up against them. Glass houses and all. Can you say you’ve never changed your mind about anything? You’ve never done anything that others thought was stupid and you were fine with it? Are you still “not smart” just because they thought you weren’t? Get over yourself.

        Clint, JK, and the MNT will be just fine. And as for your Stoke, Fulham, Everton, etc., argument, one of those teams has to want to pay the $9m transfer fee in order for Clint to go there. None did. He wasn’t available on a free, and Spurs weren’t budging on the fee. So he wasn’t going anywhere else in Europe. That’s precisely WHY Seattle was able to get him right now..

        So, given all that, what would you rather have for Clint and the MNT, sitting at Spurs with the possiblity of limited to occasional playing time, or at Sounders with constant playing time and an offseason loan back to Europe to prep for the WC? And all those clubs you mentioned before? Yeah, now they can afford to bring Dempsey in on loan.

      • schmutzdeck - Aug 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        You are ignoring the fact that JK has shown himself pretty pragmatic about the notion that playing in Europe automatically makes you better than a MLS regular.

        JK was clearly upset with Shea about his move to Stoke, an EPL club. He never said why but he hinted around about the fact that it was that Shea was going have trouble getting much playing time.

        JK has always championed Beckerman, a player who pretty clearly was not going to move to Europe.

        JK did not bring in Sacha for the longest time, though admittedly he saw him as subordinate to Mikey and Nasty Jermaine, two guys who play in Europe.

        And he brought life time MLS-er Donovan on loan to Bayern Munich.

        JK is not as black and white on this Europe vs MLS question as everyone seems to think he is, nor should he be. I’m sure JK will monitor Clint’s form as closely as ever. He was willing to dump Donovan; he won’t think twice about dropping Clint. Especially as he now has a good excuse.

        And these two are right now the US’ two most dangerous players.

  2. paxonst - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    One of thing to look out for is whether Clint, Donovan, or any other MLS players on the USMNT short list play in Europe when the MLS season ends in November. JK will definitely pushing for them to play overseas in the MLS offseason.

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