USMNT Needs a Strong Clint Dempsey in Brazil
By Duncan Day
Clint Dempsey has taken MLS by storm in the past couple weeks, and U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann couldn’t be more excited for the 31-year-old.
"[I'm] very happy that Clint has picked up the rhythm and find his confidence and is part of almost every goal that Seattle scores. That’s really a good sign, it’s great for us going into the final weeks before we hit the preparation for the World Cup knowing that he’s building his confidence more and more and more," he told mlssoccer.com.
While many have only noticed Dempsey’s play for the Seattle Sounders, the American forward-midfielder was actually on loan at Fulham before his move out West.
That spell in the Premier League really helped Dempsey get his feet wet prior to the beginning of the season, according to Klinsmann.
“It’s due to his hard work that he put in for January, February, being at Fulham. It was not a successful time, but he built a foundation for the months afterward so he seems to now at the right time, at the right spot."
The veteran agreed that his period away at Craven Cottage was difficult. Nonetheless, there were positive aspects that came out of it.
“It’s been tough, but also it’s been good for me, trying to get back to fitness and feeling good, coming off an injury towards the end of the season with the national team,” Dempsey said during the middle of his loan in February. “It’s good to get some games, some minutes over here, but unfortunately the results haven’t been going our way. But I’ve still got a month left and hopefully we can start getting some points.”
Unfortunately, Fulham and Dempsey couldn’t recover. He failed to notch a goal or an assist in seven total appearances, while his team sunk to the bottom of the EPL.
For those who were discontent with his performance abroad, racking up numbers on the stat sheet wasn’t the point of his two-month trip. Really, like Dempsey himself said, he needed to recover his fitness level before the 2014 season started in the U.S. Coming into his second season in Seattle after a quiet campaign last year, the former Tottenham Hotspur man knew he had more to show American soccer fans.
Now, Dempsey has flaunted his true skill, notching a hat-trick in a rivalry clash against the Portland Timbers, and also netting a brace vs. FC Dallas. Seattle is battling for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Texas native has six goals (tied for the league’s best) in four starts.
In international play approaching the World Cup, Dempsey hasn’t made his presence felt, as a right calf injury affected his availability towards the end of 2013.
Still, with Jozy Altidore disappointing overseas, Clint’s magic touch in MLS could guide Klinsmann and Co. in the right direction offensively. USMNT will face quite the challenge in World Cup group action--world powers Portugal and Germany as well as a dangerous Ghana squad.
The U.S. will necessitate a complete team endeavor to advance, and attacking players, namely Dempsey, must lead the way.