US SoccerUS Soccer

Still Deadly, Still Getting Better

If Clint Dempsey was supposed to disappoint after his record-setting 2011-12 campaign with Fulham then somebody forgot to mention it to the USA’s third all-time leading goal scorer.

In his last season at Fulham, Dempsey set an all-time record for goals scored by an American in Europe with 23 (a record since broken by Jozy Altidore’s 31 goals this season for AZ Alkmaar) and was voted Fulham Player of the Season by the fans for a second consecutive season. His best season at Craven Cottage would be his last, as Dempsey was a last-minute transfer to Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the summer 2012 transfer window.

The move from southwest to north London worked out well for the Texas native as Dempsey picked up right where he left off at his new club. Dempsey added to his reputation of scoring big goals in big games as his first goal for Tottenham was the match-winning tally in Spurs’ 3-2 victory against Manchester United, Tottenham’s first win in 23 years at Old Trafford.  He burned the eventual league champions again and scored a dramatic match-tying goal in the 93rd minute at White Hart Lane to salvage a 1-1 draw for Spurs.

“He has the instincts of a deadly striker,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said.

As the season reached its climax and Tottenham was still in hot pursuit of its first Champions League spot since the 2009-10 campaign, Dempsey turned in one of his finest performances of the season. He provided a goal and an assist in a crucial 2-1 victory at Stoke City in the second-to-last game of the season that kept Tottenham in the running for a top four finish.

Dempsey’s offensive prowess didn’t just factor into league fixtures. His 12 total goals for Spurs included a brace in a 3-0 win against Coventry in the FA Cup and a brace in the 2-2 draw against FC Basel in the Europa League where Spurs fell in heartbreaking fashion on penalty kicks. Dempsey finished the season as the team’s third leading scorer and was the only player on the team to score multiple goals in three different competitions (Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League).

Dempsey’s hot boots during the past 12 months have also been of supreme importance to the U.S. National Team. 2012 saw Dempsey score a career-high six international goals in just nine games, with five of his scores coming in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. His 12 career goals in World Cup Qualifiers are tied with Landon Donovan for first all-time in U.S. Soccer history.

“Clint’s role is very crucial to our group,” U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “The qualities he has automatically give him so much respect from everybody around him because he’s an outstanding player, and he’s a player that can play on the top level week in and week out.”

That form has continued so far into 2013, as Dempsey has scored two goals in three games of the final round of 2014 World Cup Qualifying. He scored the match-winning goal in the 1-0 victory against Costa Rica in Colorado on March 22, and helped the U.S. earn another crucial point in the 0-0 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca four days later. His leadership was recognized by Klinsmann as he was named team captain for the two crucial fixtures.

“Those are things that you now expect from Clint to bring in, and we are thrilled how he took that in his first two games as a captain against Costa Rica and Mexico,” Klinsmann said. “He led by example. We are curious to see how this continues, but I think he took it really well and we are excited about how things will go with him going forward.”