Clint Dempsey, Homeless American Soccer Vagabond…or Not
So, American soccer fans, let’s all take a moment to sit down. We need to talk.
Something weird and unexplainable is happening. Something we never thought we would have to worry about. Something that we have yet to be forewarned of. Though the rumor mills and speculation machines had us all believing a move was inevitable, Clint Dempsey is still playing — or at least on the roster of — Fulham.
We have all heard the rumblings. It was Champions League or bust for Deuce. You knew it. I knew it. He knew it. It was time for the big show. Months later, with less than a week until he is going to need to start mending fences with Martin Jol, Dempsey is playing with the Fulham reserves. It is a bitter pill to swallow. It is bitter to you. It is bitter to me. It is bitter for Clint Dempsey. But it is time to admit that maybe, just maybe, Clint Dempsey is going to stay at Fulham.
In actuality, American soccer fans, there is nothing wrong with staying at Fulham. Unfortunately, our expectations were raised so high that we thought there was no way he would stay at that club. Truthfully, Michael Bradley’s move to AS Roma may have helped in setting the bar way too high for Clint Dempsey. Bradley is younger and plays a more technical style than Dempsey. When Bradley quietly made a move to one of the biggest clubs in Italy, we figured that Dempsey was sure to find his way to a Champions League side in England. However, if a Champions League side wanted him, he’d probably already be there. And, American soccer fans, our boy is still in Fulham.
But why does this non movement seem much more painful? Good things have happened in this window, American soccer fans. In addition to Bradley’s move, we need to look at Geoff Cameron playing well for Stoke. Jozy is still continuing to light it up with AZ Alkmaar. Terrence Boyd has found first team minutes. Even Villyan Bijev has found a way to get time by being loaned out to Norway from Liverpool while awaiting his work permit.
Yet we are not looking at that. We are used to being kicked around as a big nation full of potential that cannot ever put it all together. So instead of our successes, we are self-consciously and hyper-vigilantly focused on Clint Dempsey’s non-movement from Fulham. It is a failure in our minds, American soccer fans. There is no success without Clint moving. He must move!
After all, when our best baseball and basketball players ask for trades, they are gone. When our best gridiron players holdout, they are rewarded with new contracts or new teams. Meanwhile, Dempsey who is one of the best American field players ever is unmoved; and frustratingly, we are having to watch as his manager and home crowd turn on him. What does that say about us that our star is sitting still with everyone turning on him?
This is not how we imagined it. We saw him strutting out opening day of the Prem in an Arsenal shirt, or at the very least a Liverpool one. He was going to start. He was going to score 20 goals, plus another 3 in Champions League. Now we are wondering if maybe he is just not good enough. We are at the realization point that if he does complete a move to a big club he may not be a star. He may even *gasp* have to come off the bench as a substitute. Are we willing to accept that, American soccer fan? It seems as though we’d rather panic, freak out, and get images of Clint Dempsey the homeless soccer vagabond than imagine him not moving!
The thing is with Dempsey, this is the first big time transfer saga we’ve seen play out. This is the first time we have been dragged with our guy. This is the first time we’ve seen our name dragged though the mud. Anti-American cheers from Fulham fans are hurting our soccer pride. This whole thing is new to us. Bradley moved softly to a big team. When Jozy moved it was not a big deal due to it not being in a top 4 league. But Dempsey had been in a big league, possibly the biggest. And when he requested the move he did it like they do things in his native Texas: biggly, brashly, and boldly! Now we all sit and wait.
And as the realization sinks in that he may not move we worry. But should we? After all, there is nothing wrong with being a star on a mid-table team. Yet now we worry if he will still be a star on Fulham. Will his fans forgive him? Will Martin Jol let him back on the roster that easily? Will he have another big season? Was last year his pinnacle?
So, American soccer fan, you are worried. I get that, so am I. And I’d bet so is Dempsey. But this is the transfer season. Dempsey is, as said by many, breaking new ground in American soccer. He’s playing with the big boys and playing big boy transfer ball. He’s ready for the move, but are we ready for him staying where he is? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out.
But we better prepare anyway.