Leaving that post on Sandusky up on top so long is not a good reflection of the state of sports. I think I just needed some time away from the blogging. On to more positive things.
Let’s take a second to consider and celebrate Clinton Drew Dempsey, AKA “Deuce.” Many know the salient points of his soccer life, but to recap:
He grew up playing in Nacogdoches, Texas where he lived in a trailer park. Not in the cradle of US soccer talent, New Jersey. Not in comfortable San Diego. He played pick-up games with the locals, a lot of Mexican players on fields that varied in quality and games that were not refereed. His family made huge sacrifices to allow him to play travel soccer in Dallas — a three hour drive. It’s all in wikipedia.
He moved from New England in the MLS to Fulham in England. New England to old England. He became a huge success at Fulham where we was a fan favorite, leading scorer and a bit of a rapper on the side. He is arguably the best non-goalkeeping soccer player to ever come out of the USA. He is the first and only American to score a hat-trick in the English top league. The goal the US scored, the one that squibbed under Robert Green and killed his England career? That was Deuce too. At Fulham he became the team’s designated free-kick taker, a role usually reserved for Brazilians or Spaniards. John Harkes opened the door. Landon rattled the doorknob. Clint put his foot in and swaggered through.
And now, Esquire magazine has him listed as a 2012 “American of the Year.” Why? Because he had the temerity to walk away from all his success at Fulham and demand a trade to a new, better team. Tottenham Hotspur is where he ended up which to me is like wanting to go to Paris France and ending up in Paris Texas. Spurs are a step up from Fulham but definitely not a “Mind The Step” kind of big quantum leap he was seeking. But fair play to Dempsey, his new club is playing in Europe, albeit in the Europa cup, which is the NIT of European soccer to the NCAA’s Champions League.
How’s the move working for him? Well, he’s on the lower end of the S-curve. He is not the
darling of the terraces, and already the British questioning and slagging has begun, as in this “Is Clint Dempsey good enough for Spurs?” blog post. (I vote “yes,” ‘yes’ be my answer.) The goal he scored to help beat Manchester United at Old Trafford shows he can play, but to his critics it wasn’t difficult enough and there haven’t been more of them.
So here’s to Clint. I am reminded of the pre-scandal Tiger Woods taking a year off to completely change his golf swing when it was already setting records. There is something truly American about becoming a success, aspiring for more and tearing the whole thing down to start from scratch. Whether Clint’s Spurs gamble pays off is up to the fates, but it’s America at its best.