Player Profile: Clint Dempsey
Date of Birth: 9/3/1983
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
National Team: United States Men’s National Team
International Caps: 141
International Goals: 57
Clint Dempsey’s professional career began in 2004 when he was selected 8th overall in the MLS SuperDraft, the way college talent is evenly allocated into the league. Dempsey, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas, had starred for Furman University in South Carolina before taking his game to the professional level with the New England Revolution.
Dempsey made an instant impact with the Revolution, starting in 23 of 24 matches and scoring 7 goals. In his first season, he helped guide them to the Eastern Conference Finals of the MLS Playoffs and earned Rookie of the Year honors for his exploits.
During his second season Dempsey upped his game further contributing 10 goals and 9 assists. He even scored the game-winning goal on the way to the MLS Cup Final, which they lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The 2006 MLS campaign brought more success for Dempsey, but unfortunately he missed substantial playoff time due to an injury. Despite Dempsey’s absence from the team, the Revolution once again advanced to the MLS Cup Final, but again came up short. Dempsey was able to come on as a substitute but was unable to make the difference for New England.
By now Dempsey was a household name in American soccer and was earning interest from overseas. In January 2007, Fulham made Dempsey the most expensive American to transfer to the Premier League on a deal worth a reported £2 million. He joined a growing list of Americans at Craven Cottage including Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra.
Dempsey made his debut for the Cottagers a few weeks later, in a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham Hotspur. But it wasn’t until May of that year that Dempsey made his mark. He scored the only goal, his first for the club, in a 1-0 win over Tottenham. The goal saved Fulham from relegation and kept them in the Premier League.
At the beginning of the 07-08 season, Dempsey found himself parked on the bench for the first few games. After an injury to fellow American Brian McBride, it was Dempsey’s time to shine. He stepped up and scored in the next three matches.
Dempsey scored a handful more times that season and finished as Fulham’s top goalscorer in the Premier League. That spring, Dempsey was rewarded with a contract extension that kept him at the club through 2010.
Despite leading the team in league goals the season before, Dempsey found himself in the starting eleven just once in Fulham’s first eleven matches. Despite this Dempsey continued to keep his head down and work hard for a place in the squad. The forward took his chances when he came on as a substitute and eventually regained his spot in the first eleven.
For the second straight season, Dempsey lead Fulham in league goals. Thanks to his goals and the work of his teammates, Fulham finished a respectable seventh-place in the Premier League. This was a record high finish for the club and meant they qualified for the UEFA Europa League the following season.
Just seven days after signing another contract extension, Dempsey scored his first goal in European competition against Russian side Amkar Perm.
In March of 2010, Dempsey scored what The Guardian described as, “the most famous goal in Fulham’s history.” Going into the second leg of their last-16 tie against Italian giant Juventus down 3-1, Fulham stormed back to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate. Dempsey looped the winning goal into the top corner in the 82nd minute. The sensational comeback was complete.
The run continued for Fulham as they advanced all the way to the Europa League Final. When Dempsey entered the match in the 55th minute, he became the first American ever to feature in a major European final. Fulham ended up losing the match to Atletico Madrid thanks to a 116th minute winner scored by Diego Forlan.
The following season Dempsey became the first American to score ten Premier league goals, breaking former teammate Brian McBride’s record. He went on to record a total of 12 league goals, which set a Fulham record for the most goals in the Premier League. Dempsey was voted Fulham’s Player of the Season for the 10-11 campaign.
Despite the incredible success of his Fulham career things would get even better for Dempsey in the 2011-12 season. Dempsey scored 17 goals and finished fourth on the FWA Footballer of the Year list. During this season, Dempsey became the first American to reach a total of 50 Premier League goals.
With his stardom official, Fulham cashed in and sold Dempsey to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for around $9 million.
His first goal for Spurs came in historic fashion as he scored the match-winning goal in a 3-2 win over Manchester United. It was the first time Spurs had beaten United at Old Trafford in 23 years. Now that’s how you make an introduction.
That season, his only at Spurs, Dempsey scored 7 league goals, and 3 in the Europa League. In August of 2013, Dempsey was sold to Seattle Sounders in MLS for the same $9 million Spurs had spent on him a year earlier.
Dempsey played in 9 matches at the end of the 2013 MLS season, scoring once, before being loaned back to Fulham for a short two-month loan.
Returning to Seattle in time to start the MLS season, Dempsey started with a bang. He scored an early season hattrick against regional rivals Portland Timbers and braces against two other opponents. He started the season with 8 goals in 5 games.
Dempsey scored 15 goals and recorded 10 assists as Seattle won the Supporter’s Shield, but were eliminated by Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference Finals.
He was finally able to lift the MLS Cup in 2016 when his Sounders’ team knocked off Toronto FC on penalties. Seattle made another run to the finals in 2017 but were beaten by Toronto in a repeat final.
Dempsey’s career almost ended prematurely when he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in 2016. Eventually, he was cleared to play and returned for the 2017 season, in which he was named Comeback Player of the Season for his efforts.
During Dempsey’s time in Seattle, he played in 115 league games and scored 47 times. He was named an MLS All-Star 3 times and added a U.S. Open Cup win to his resume in 2014.
Following an incredible 15-year career, Dempsey retired in 2018 as one of the greatest American soccer players of all-time.
It didn’t take long after his first cap for Dempsey to become a mainstay in the U.S. National team setup. For over a decade Dempsey was one of the most important attacking players for a generation of talent that saw some of the best football the United States has ever produced.
In the U.S.’s failed 2006 World Cup campaign, Dempsey scored the only American goal in the tournament. In 2010, Dempsey scored an infamous goal against England, when Rob Green let Dempsey’s shot slip through his grasp in a 1-1 draw in the group stage.
Dempsey was named captain for the 2014 World Cup. In the group stage against Ghana, Dempsey scored after just 28 seconds. The goal was the fastest goal in American World Cup history and the 4th fastest in all-time World Cup history.
He was the first American to score in 3 World Cups and helped the U.S. to the 2009 Confederations Cup, a first for the country. Dempsey won 3 CONCACAF Gold Cups and was runner-up in another.
Dempsey’s 141 international caps rank him 4th all-time in U.S. history and his 57 goals have him tied for first with fellow American legend, Landon Donovan.
Where is Clint Dempsey now?
These days Clint Dempsey spends his time at home with his wife and four children. Will he follow so many other former professionals into broadcasting or coaching? Maybe he’ll pursue his musical passions? Either way, we will all have to wait and see what comes next for Clint Dempsey.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Clint Dempsey
– As a youth player, Dempsey had to travel 6-hours round trip to and from practice because there was no elite team in his home town.
– Nicknamed “Deuce” because he wore number 2 throughout college and his early days with the New England Revolution.
– The first American to score a hattrick in the Premier League.
– Highest scoring American in Premier League history.