Clint Dempsey Is Still Underrated and Disrespected By Americans
At a certain point, underrating someone crosses the line into disrespecting someone, and that applies to Clint Dempsey. Many media members and fans will insist that Dempsey isn’t the best American soccer player ever, and this is very hard to understand. Dempsey has been displaying individual trickery and goals for 12 years, but there is still no widespread acknowledgment of his superiority to Landon Donovan.
Dempsey’s playing resume features some seven years of playing in the English Premier League and scoring goals consistently as a midfielder, even while playing for a mediocre Fulham team without much technical quality or creativity in the squad. At the international level, Dempsey is now just two goals short of Landon Donovan’s goal-scoring record, which is likely the last obstacle to being considered the best American player ever.
More so than the statistics, Dempsey really stands out from Donovan for his ability to always be dangerous and effective even against the very best international opponents. Unlike Donovan, Dempsey wasn’t ever neutralized be opponents or psyched out by elite international opponents, and it was this ability to always be a difference maker, no matter the opponent, that makes him the best American player ever. No matter how bad the rest of the team played, Dempsey always stood out amongst his teammates when the U.S. played.
He might be a victim of American soccer fans and media members being adverse to individual trickery and flashiness, as American soccer fans are still largely influenced by British soccer where tricks and flair are seen as pointless. Many times Dempsey was criticized for some of his 1v1 attempts not panning out, and some people viewed his play as wasteful. Anyway you look at it though, he always looked much better than his teammates, and his goals confirmed that this was in fact true.
In the most recent U.S. victory over Honduras, people kept saying that Dempsey probably wouldn’t start or that he wouldn’t be at 100%, but Dempsey scored a hat trick where every goal showcased technical skill and clinical finishing. The standard criticism of American soccer players is that they lack the skill on the ball of other elite players, but this never applied to Dempsey.
The Texan’s game has always featured stand-out individual skill combined with the mentality and athleticism to play well against any opponent, and even at two goals shy of Donovan’s goal-scoring record, Dempsey must be considered superior to Donovan for his playing resume and skill-level.
Donovan was the first of his kind for an American soccer player, but continuing to not consider Dempsey the best American soccer player ever is simply disrespectful and off-base. We continue to hear forming U.S. Men’s National Team players saying that Dempsey isn’t better than Donovan, yet they can’t support their position with any evidence. Donovan was great, but he wasn’t as great as Dempsey was and is.
Once the reality of Dempsey’s proximity to Donovan’s scoring record really sinks in, people won’t be so quick to declare Donovan better than Dempsey. Honduras isn’t a good opponent, but the United States needed to beat Honduras to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, which is when Dempsey scored three goals, none of which were tap-ins. These goals were a sliding blast into the top corner with a defender hanging all over him, a goal scored past two defenders and a goalkeeper off the dribble, and a world-class free kick to the far post from outside the box.