What We Talk About When We Talk About Clint Dempsey

A conversation on the best, and probably the most enigmatic, American soccer player alive.
Share |
These may be emotions, it's hard to tell.

Image via the USA10kit.com.

Clint Dempsey, at 29, is coming off the best season ever by an American soccer player in Europe. He finished with 17 goals, good enough for fourth place in the world's best league behind only two men even casual sports fans would know (Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney) and one they should (Sergio Agüero). With a potential big-money transfer in the works–Liverpool, owned by the Red Sox and LeBron James?–two dudes who cover soccer talked about what makes the dude from Nacogdoches so darn good.

Noah Davis: So Zac, we find ourselves in a place where Clint Dempsey on the verge of a big transfer and is hands down the best American player right now. How surprising is this? Landon Donovan mentioned the fire with which Dempsey always plays, which drives him in ways that no one really understands. But it's not all about effort and desire; Dempsey is one of, if not, the most skilled player that the Waldos have. Does the obvious fury of his game overshadow his immense talent?

Zac Rigg: For me, Dempsey's fury—Clint pounding his chest, eyes nearly bugging out of his face—contrasts not with his skill, but with his pastimes. Clint lounging in a boat, bass fishing. Clint golfing. Clint playing video games. There's a marked difference between the guy on the field and off. Dempsey plays soccer with a chip on his shoulder so big it would flatten lesser men into the perfectly manicured grass, but somehow seems perfectly content with his tranquil life with wife and kids when not doing his job. My questions is: how much of it is desire? Give another random kid from Texas the same abilities as Dempsey and does he go as far? Or are the last 49 Premier League goals the product of icy determination?

Davis: It has to be both, right? Which is to say: I have no idea. This isn't the most novel observation, but I think the well-chronicled Nacogdoches upbringing—both the good sides (the creativity he learned on the theatrically-lit dirt fields; the fire his outsider upbringing instilled) and the bad (his family's financial struggles; his sister's tragic death)—is the key to everything about Dempsey. He seems much more a product of his youth than say a kid from Evanston, Illinois or Princeton, New Jersey—that is, the stereotypical/prototypical U.S. soccer dude—although perhaps that's because his childhood was so unique. But because of that and because of how stubbornly inward he is, it's hard, at least for me and I suspect for most fans, to relate to Dempsey on a personal level. He doesn't offer much of his personality, which I guess is a calculated move by a private man. So all we see is intensity. He just scores goals, does that jump-in-the-air-fist-pump thing where you worry his eyes are going to explode out of his head, and then he jogs back to the top of the formation and starts the process all over. After the game, he takes off his uniform and takes his son and daughter fishing. Dempsey as a chilled-out father does not quite compute given what we see on the field, yet clearly it works for him. It's amazing to me he can switch between modes so effortlessly.

Rigg: He's likely reticent by design, at least about certain things. He speaks openly about the death of his sister, and doesn't shy away from the camera, but that feels mostly like him doing his job as a public figure. Maybe more to the point, Dempsey lacks the magnetism of a star. There's no megawatt smile or super-dashing good looks, definitely no great soundbites and rarely any sound at all that isn't muttered from the side of his mouth in a thick accent.

Rigg: But it's easy to see why it would be this way. Pretty much his whole career, Dempsey has been undervalued—by managers, fans, teammates—and media coverage has followed suit. It's only lately, when the stats became so sickeningly bloated, that Clint's been held in starlight. And the gruesome effectiveness of his game also helps pave over the fact that Dempsey isn't necessarily a pretty player. He cried and boycotted the World Cup when Maradona was ejected from the tournament, but he shares only passing resemblance with his idol's style of play. Dempsey's is a brutal, gritty, glaringly direct manner. He has some tricks—which come off about as often asthey don't—but nothing particularly slick. He also lacks creative vision. For an American audience that grew up with great Latin playmakers (Valderrama, Etcheverry, Blanco, Schelotto), taking to a guy with more gumption than guile—and as comfortable in a literal brawl as in the metaphorical one we pretend sport is—has taken time. There's a little footballer in that futboler.

Davis: It's interesting you say Dempsey lacks creative vision. Many of the classic Dempsey moments that stick out in my mind are moments of individual brilliance. The dazzling goal against Juventus first and foremost. Simply attempting that shot takes some cojones, but having the talent to pull it off is no less important. It is, I would argue, both creative in terms of the vision to imagine it and direct in terms of: ball, meet goal in the most direct way possible. Call it the audacity of hope, I guess.

Davis: But you're right in that Dempsey lacks the team-oriented creative vision. He's not a great passer, certainly behind a guy like Jose Torres or Landon Donovan on the US team. Our subject would rather, I suspect, go through someone than around him. Shoot first, ask questions later. It's hard not to like, really.

Rigg: With a transfer imminent, the main question I have about Dempsey's career is how far he can take it. Usually players have hit their highest notes by the age of 29 and after that it's a matter of mitigating a decaying physique with tactical adjustments and increased veteran know-how. But two things are in Dempsey's favor right now.

Rigg: 1) Players who begin their careers later tend to peak later. For an example, pick any American soccer player ever. The ones that spring to mind are McBride, Keller and Friedel, matriculators all. I also like Drogba's precedent here. The Ivorian striker didn't go pro until his second decade as well, and his best seasons came extremely late.

Rigg: And 2) As opposed to a series of Next Great Hopes in America, Dempsey started modestly before steadily improving and thriving at every stage of his career. He's a slow burner, not a fizzling firework. At Furman, then the Revs, then Fulham, Dempsey at first struggled for playing time, then established himself, then became the team's main star. The way he laboriously adapts suggests, given the chance, he can go up another notch as well.

Davis: Let's discount Keller and Friedel. They are goalies, which doesn't quite seem like a fair comparison. I'm not sure about Drogba, either. The point about the relative late start of their pro careers is well-taken, but Drogba is a physical singularity in a way that Dempsey is not. Which leaves, of course, McBride. And while their games aren't that similar, they do remind me of each other in the way that they always seem to find a way to help their team,. That adaptiveness will prolong Dempsey's career. Soccer's not like basketball where you can go learn a fadeaway in the offseason or add more tricks to your repertoire, but you can improve if you want badly enough to do so. This, quite nicely, leads us back to the beginning of this whole debate: Which quality is more important to Dempsey's game: his skill or his desire?

Rigg: Well, I'm not sure. And I don't really have a guess how far either can take him, but Jurgen Klinsmann seems to think there's at least one significant step forward left in Dempsey. Dempsey himself knows well how short these sport careers are: "You don't have much time in your career," he told Sports Illustrated. "When you're not playing and you're able to play, that's time you never get back. You don’t know how long careers are going to last, and I don’t want to have regrets." I'm not betting on him wasting any big chance that comes his way.


Share |

Comments

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here pacific andes

It's worth considering that this could simply be because Bo Ryan doesn't like stupid questions. And anyone who says there's no such thing as a stupid question hasn't been to enough post-game press conferences roy chio

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know solarmovie

hair while keeping your skin soft and glowing. We specialize in laser hair removal, facials and microdermabrasion. buy YouTube views

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here building link

This Website and get your free credit report back to 700 or Higher on Your Credit Score Thanks For Visiting more info

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this helpful data.. plumber 24 hour

I added it to my top choices web journal webpage list and will be inquiring soon. If you don't mind look at my site too and let me realize what you. werbemittel und werbetraeger

The issue handles very nicely. I really appreciate the communication skill of yours.Salesforce Consulting and Support

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here drain cleaning companies

I know your aptitude on this. I must say we ought to have an online examination on this. Composing just remarks will close the dialog straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data drain cleaning companies

Your site has grown a one-stop find as much as possible tutorial authoring. Thanks for your time in the very good get the job done. As i tested the online sites one preferred and even On the net which will best-dissertation.pores and skin look though. Ones own get the job done is kind of exemplary. best ceramic pots

A debt of gratitude is in order for setting aside an ideal opportunity to examine this, I feel emphatically about it and love adapting more on this theme. In the event that conceivable, as you pick up aptitude, would you mind upgrading your web journal with additional data? It is greatly useful for mefba business

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here how does fba work

Incredible review, I am a major adherent to remarking on online journals to illuminate the web journal essayists realize that they"ve added something beneficial to the internet knights and dragons hack

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you known Boom Beach Hack

This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work custom creations decorative concrete boston ma

I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable. local stamped concrete contractors

I added it to my top choices web journal webpage list and will be inquiring soon. If you don't mind look at my site too and let me realize what you think Architecture Centre

Get Your Free Credit Score On This Website and get your free credit report back to 700 or Higher on Your Credit Score Thanks For Visiting Free Credit Score

I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work. its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You Kelly and Chapman Lawyers

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work building link

I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic plumber in minneapolis

Your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable.
read full report

It just takes a bit of effort to be able to learn how to make some nice dishes. The more shows you watch and cookbooks you read will definitely help you Werken in Marokko

In fact dependable, fantastic, fact-filled advice in this case. A items Have let down, and that also clearly is valid in this case to boot. Most people consistently can make for a worthwhile read through. How can you show So i am floored?: )#) Cultivate the nice content pieces.
Wax-U

This specific is a great article My spouse and i witnessed due to talk about the idea. It is definitely precisely what I want to to view expect throughout potential you can proceed pertaining to expressing a real exceptional article.
Yorkshire Movers

I agree with you. This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job fakeidboss

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking get the facts

You have a real ability for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking more about the author

I read a considerable measure of stuff and i found that the method for composing to clearing that precisely need to say was great so i am inspired and i like to come back again in future united states travel map

Thanks a lot for producing this magical post today. This is the best thing that I've read in a long time. And the information you provided here was really helpful for me as well queenstown condo

I know your aptitude on this. I must say we ought to have an online examination on this. Composing just remarks will close the dialog straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data http://fakeidboss.net

If the particular buying method causes disappointment, confusion or perhaps insecurity, the user probably will abandon the shopping cart application, never to go back again http://fakeidboss.net

It is a great website and nice share.personal injury attorneys atlanta

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article Draftkings promo

So after applying for this show, you can see certain changes in your body quick, you can also go higherkit tattoo

Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. tattoo supply

Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work pure slim cleanse

It just takes a bit of effort to be able to learn how to make some nice dishes. The more shows you watch and cookbooks you read will definitely help you ed miracle shake

Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. pure slim cleanse canada

It would seem that you spend a considerable measure of exertion and time on your web journal. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles.
view homepage

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work activated charcoal for smells

This is very interesting content! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are great free 0800 calls from mobile

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all blog. high quality link building service

It can an excellent content articles and it's really very helpful for me personally. I discovered therefore various interesting products in your site especially. Its great article really free 0800 calls from mobile

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know read more

Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you הסעות לסאותהמפתון

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. overseas private investigator

Good composed article. It will be steady to any individual who uses it, including me. Continue doing what you are doing – cantr hold up to peruse more posts investigator fees