August 28, 2012
Clint Dempsey, who could just very well be the best American-born soccer player ever, is playing Russian Roulette with his career at the moment as he more or less stage’s a one-man strike. The U.S. international, who plays for Fulham in the English Premier League, is adamant about moving from the London-based club even though he’s still under contract to them for another year. Dempsey has made life tough for Fulham manager Martin Jol as he’s refusing to play for the team.
The 29-year-old Dempsey is seeking a move out of Fulham to play for one of the league’s top teams where he’ll have a chance to play in the European Champions League. It was rumored all summer long that Liverpool was going to put an offer in for the midfielder/forward and at one point even posted on its website that Dempsey had been acquired. However, the move never materialized since Liverpool didn’t put in an official offer for the player.
This led Dempsey to sulk as he thought he’d been given a one-way ticket out of London. But since Fulham didn’t sell him he’s under contract until next June. Dempsey basically refused to play in his club’s season-opening game, but Fulham didn’t miss him in a 5-0 whitewashing over Norwich at home. Next up was Manchester United away and Dempsey still didn’t want to play. This resulted in a 3-2 loss for Fulham and a red-faced manager in Jol who didn’t have the courage to put Dempsey’s name down as a starter. Jol said he asked Dempsey if he wanted to play and the American answered with, “You know what I want,” in reference to a transfer to Liverpool.
While Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers probably should have kept his mouth shut, he admitted earlier in the summer that he was interested in Dempsey. But no offer was made by the team which is owned by the Fenway Sports Group, who also owns MLB’s Boston Red Sox. Dempsey could be committing career suicide here by refusing to play for Fulham. He told Jol that he wants to leave and doesn’t want to play for the team anymore. But in reality, he doesn’t have any other options. If Liverpool or no other team puts an offer in for him by Aug. 31 then he’s stuck in London.
Soccer’s transfer window closes on that date and doesn’t open again until January. That means he either gives in and starts playing or he could suffer the consequences. Dempsey is handling the situation all wrong and so is Jol. The manager should fine or suspend Dempsey if he refuses to play. By not doing so, he’s just allowing the player to dictate what he’s going to do and it’s a case of the inmates running the asylum. There’s no reason to give in to Dempsey while he’s contracted to play, especially since he’s reportedly earning $3 million a year.
It’s a shame really because Dempsey has proven to be one of Fulham’s best ever players and is the most successful American import to play in Europe. The native of Nacogdoches, Texas, joined Fulham back in 2007 and has 50 goals in the Premier League, the highest total or a U.S.-born player. He managed 23 goals last season in 46 matches to lead the club. Prior to playing in England, Dempsey was a member of Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution. He scored 25 goals in 71 games for them and was sold for $4 million to Fulham.
Dempsey became the first American to score a hat trick in the Premier League last season when he drilled three in against Newcastle in January. A couple of weeks earlier he had scored an FA Cup hat trick in a 4-0 win over Charlton. He also holds several other records for an American-born player and Fulham records including being the first to American play in a European cup final, and scoring the most goals by a Fulham player in a Premier League season. He’s number four on the all-time scoring list for the U.S. national team with 27 goals in 87 games.
There’s no doubt that Dempsey has a rugged and tough style of play and possesses superb dribbling skills. He’s one of the best players in the league at beating opponents one on one while putting in a commendable effort every time he plays. He also has a knack for banging in important goals with many of them being game winners or equalizers. He’s proven year after year that he’s certainly not a flash in the pan. The problem right now is that all of this talent is going to waste for no sensible reason.
Jol blames Liverpool for the mess and said that the Fenway Group made a big mistake when they posted on their website that Dempsey had joined the team. The post was quickly taken down, but it’s caused a lot of trouble ever since. Fulham has even go as far as filing a formal complaint with the Premier League about the incident, which would be termed ‘tampering’ in most North American professional sports. Jol said that Liverpool has bought other players in the meantime so the current situation sees Dempsey stuck at Fulham, but he won’t play. However, it’s up to Jol to put his foot down and show who’s the boss instead of calling it an embarrassing situation and waiting to see what happens next.
Dempsey hasn’t said much, other than to post on his Twitter account that there are two sides to every story and the truth will be revealed soon. But in the meantime he’s losing the respect of fans, players, and officials around the league with his stance. The club holds all of the cards here and will likely sell him if there’s a decent offer. But Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed said he won’t allow Dempsey to leave unless the price is right and if there’s no offer he simply has to stay for the year.