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What Does The Return Of Clint Dempsey Mean For MLS?
by Rich Vanden
Dempsey began his professional career with New England Revolution after being drafted 8th in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. A promising debut season saw a then 21 year old Dempsey impressing in the blue of New Jersey, earning the rookie of the year award. Two more productive seasons, in which his New England side twice finished runners up in the MLS cup finals, earned Dempsey a move to English Premier League side Fulham FC, and became the most expensive MLS player in history.
His tenacious and committed style of play suited the English Premier League down to the bone, and consistent performances over a number of seasons saw him established as both a top Premier League talent, and a Fulham fan favourite. In his final season with Fulham, he won the club’s player of the season award for a second consecutive year, and finished as the club’s top scorer with 23 goals. A much coveted player in the 2012 summer transfer window, Dempsey who was chased by the likes of Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC, secured a move to Tottenham Hotspur FC for a fee of £6m.
Fast forward a year and after another season in which his performances couldn’t be questioned, Seattle have managed to clinch the signing of the nations best and most internationally renowned player for $9m, with Dempsey set to earn $32m over 4 years in a move that can only be good for the MLS.
In recent years, the league’s sides have tried to attract the biggest available players in world football, and have captured names such as Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill, Robbie Keane and most notably David Beckham. These moves have been attempts to raise the global profile of the league, and whilst more attention has been drawn to the MLS from abroad as a result, the lack of significant international following would suggest a flaw in the way the league has gone about trying to expand.
This makes the signing of Clint Dempsey a significant one, and perhaps the best high profile signing of the MLS to date. A player in his prime who’s made a name for himself in the world’s strongest league, Dempsey returns to the states with not only Premier League experience and quality to strengthen Seattle Sounders, but the national player profile to attract more fans to the sport and strengthen the profile of MLS; the timing of the move couldn’t be better, with the sporting attention of the nation set to turn towards soccer over the next year, as the World Cup in Brazil next year approaches. Fans of all sports share a common interest; they all enjoy watching talent. If the MLS is to grow within the states, they will need to have an array of the exciting American talent within the league, and securing the return of Dempsey is a good start.
by Rich Vanden, Football Analyst
Major League Soccer secured a major coup by landing homegrown star Clint Dempsey.
The United States international who is just one cap shy of a century has completed a transfer to MLS franchise Seattle Sounders. The move which was swift has come as a shock to many, and anybody who knows anything about soccer would be questioning the move by Dempsey. American soccer fans however, should be rubbing their hands at the prospect of their biggest star returning in his peak, and what it could mean for the future of the league.
Taking a look at the strongest and most watched European leagues such as the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, a common thread can be seen running through them all; football is the biggest sport in their nations, and they demand a strong home following as a result. The US is a nation big on sports, and although the MLS is growing in popularity, it’s clearly still some way behind the NBA and NFL in terms of following. The global growth of the MLS hinges on it’s growth within the United States; any significant global growth will come from the MLS becoming a stronger brand and growing in popularity amongst Americans.
Photo courtesy telegraph.co.uk
Photo courtesy sfgate.com