Sports take: Dempsey made American soccer fun

USMNT star Clint Dempsey passionately argues a call. Dempsey announced his retirement from soccer on Wednesday. Photo credit: Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

Just a few days after basketball legend Manu Ginobili retired, soccer legend Clint Dempsey announced his retirement from soccer at 35 years old through his “Seattle Sounders” Major League Soccer (MLS) club today.

“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” Dempsey said. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”

Dempsey had a professional career that spanned over 15 years with many big accomplishments such as playing with top teams. He was even the face of the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT).

In 2004, Dempsey came out to the professional pitch for the first time with MLS’s “New England Revolution.” After two seasons with the Revolution, he moved to the English Premier League where he joined Fulham FC until 2012. For the 2012-13 season, Dempsey played with the Tottenham Hotspurs before going back to Fulham on loan for part of a season. He then moved to his final team — Seattle Sounders FC, in the MLS.

Dempsey had a brilliant career with every squad he was on. He currently sits tied with Landon Donovan for the most international goals scored, at 57 for the USMNT. With his time at the Premier League, he managed to climb to the top of the ranks by holding the record for most goals scored by an American in the premier leagues, again with 57 goals. Dempsey is also Fulham’s top goal scorer with 50 goals. Lastly, in his time with Seattle, Dempsey helped the club earn the 2014 Supporters’ Shield and get to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 2016 MLS Cup and 2017 Western Conference title. He is also tied for the most goals at the sounders with a score of 47.

When it comes to the USMNT, Dempsey is the first name that comes into my head when I think of the squad. He was debatably the most well-liked and best USMNT player to ever play the game. In 2006, 2010 and 2014, Dempsey made more national history by being the first player to score in three successive World Cups. He helped lead the team to finishing in the group stage and back-to-back finishes in the round of 16.

Dempsey made the national team fun to watch. The skill he brought to every game and the exciting goals he scored are part of the reason that so many fans fell in love with him. He is one of the main reasons I got into soccer. Not only did he make the game of soccer fun to watch, he made it so that the USMNT was respected as an actual challenger. His success in the MLS after the Premier League helped the game gain its popularity.

As the captain of the squad, his leadership and talent are what brought U.S. soccer into the spotlight. His scoring abilities were just one of the many reasons to cheer for him. His patriotism, leadership and overall talent is what he should be remembered for as well.

Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer praised Dempsey for everything he did for their team and for the sport of soccer in general.

“When Clint arrived in Seattle in 2013, in many ways it was a defining moment for our club,” Hanauer said. “His signing represented a new era in Major League Soccer, allowing our country’s most accomplished player to return home and drive the game to new heights domestically. Clint is a fighter, and he’ll always be a Sounder. We thank him for all he’s done for our sport.”

Dempsey is a player who, once you see him leave, you know it is the end of an era. His contribution to the English Premier League, MLS and international soccer shows how great of a player and teammate he was. Mainly being in the U.S., he brought up the MLS to being as popular as it is today with people coming from all over the country, and even the world, to watch him play with the Sounders. Christian Pulisic has already caught the eye of many Americans as the next USMNT great, but Dempsey will always be remembered as the captain who gave fans something to cheer about.

Adam Gibson
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