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Clint Dempsey’s move to MLS will pay dividends in coming World Cup qualifiers

Sep 3, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT

FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC AP

The debate about whether Clint Dempsey’s move from England’s Premier League into Major League Soccer – an emerging and improving league by the global game’s standards, but clearly not up to Premier League chops in 2013 – surely will spin on and on. Mark it down: we will bicker about that one into and beyond Brazil 2014.

But even those who were twisted up and red-faced about Dempsey’s move into MLS would have to admit, the move just might pay some quick dividends over the next two World Cup qualifiers, Friday’s in Costa Rica and then next week’s biggie, the home match against Mexico. Here’s why:

Dempsey had to get into action with Seattle a little quicker than anyone expected. In his first match in Sounders rave green, back on Aug. 10 in Toronto, an injury to fellow Sounders forward Obafemi Martins’ meant an early call off the bench for the debuting Dempsey.

(MORE: U.S. notes as the team charters into Costa Rica)

Since then, the important U.S. international has started three matches, going all 90 minutes in all three. So he’s playing regularly and probably approaching top fitness.

What are the chances Dempsey would have played so extensively had he remained in North London with Spurs? Given the attacking options at Andre Villas-Boas’ disposal around White Hart Lane, the clear answer is “not likely at all.”

Jozy Altidore’s iffy status for Friday makes Dempsey – and the ability to get the very most from him – that much more important.

  1. talgrath - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    This is one of the key reasons Dempsey went to MLS, guaranteed playing time for one of the top teams (and consistently so) in MLS. Given the choice between staying where he was, with possible limited playing time or playing for an EPL side trying to stave off relegation (which would isn’t really a step up compared to top MLS teams), it’s pretty easy to why Dempsey would make the move to MLS.

  2. mdac1012 - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    I was one of those guys who was of the opinion that a move to MLS would hurt Dempsey because of the level of talent he would be facing game to game. However, I think I have come around to recognize that at 30, his game has developed to where it is and isn’t going to get much better or worse based on his level of competition. At this point, regular playing time I think is what Dempsey needs more than anything else, so he remains sharp and fit conditioning wise.

    In a perfect world he would be playing 90 min. every match in the EPL, but since that’s not going to happen, keeping him playing regularly and in a good frame of mind is the next best thing.

  3. hildezero - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    I agree with talgrath. Pound for pound, Seattle are the most talented soccer club in Major League Soccer.

  4. jramsdale - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Don’t forget the travel/timezone advantages of flying from the west coast instead of Europe…

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