SEATTLE – Clint Dempsey has always been one to stick his chest out and stand up strong in the face of new challenges.
On Saturday, the U.S. National Team captain announced his next challenge as he was unveiled as the newest Designated Player for Sounders FC prior to the club’s match against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field.
“I am very excited about coming back to the MLS and thrilled to be joining Sounders FC,” said Dempsey. “Having recently played in Seattle with the National Team, I experienced the incredible atmosphere and the passion from the supporters first-hand. It’s going to be an honor to represent the fans in Seattle.”
The 2011 and 2012 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year joins Sounders FC after playing seven seasons in the English Premier League – six with Fulham and last season with Tottenham. In 213 league matches, he notched 57 goals and 23 assists, including an astonishing 17 goals and six assists for Fulham in the 2011-12 season.
In 99 appearances with the U.S. National Team, he has 35 goals and 12 assists, scoring in both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup tournaments. Now poised to captain the Yanks in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he has 16 goals in 31 international matches in the current cycle.
“This is a historic day for Sounders FC and our fans,” said Majority Owner Joe Roth. “Clint is a world-class soccer player who can take this club to a higher level. We have been consistent in our message to the fans that we will spare no expense to win trophies.”
Early this season, Seattle General Manager Adrian Hanauer and Sounders FC acquired forward Obafemi Martins from Levante in Spain. Joined with the acquisition of Lamar Neagle and Eddie Johnson, who is a close friend of Dempsey, Seattle now has a multi-pronged attack. Martins, Neagle and Johnson have combined for 15 goals this season, while Seattle also features midfielders Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph and Osvaldo Alonso. How Head Coach Sigi Schmid integrates Dempsey into that well-established group will become more evident when he joins the team for his first training session on Tuesday.
His return to MLS comes as Sounders FC has 15 matches left on the 2013 regular season and is making a push to the playoffs. It not only makes Seattle a contender to reach the playoffs, but a strong contender for MLS Cup.
“In doing something of this magnitude we had to make sure we had the right player. Clint Dempsey fits that mold,” Hanauer said. “Clint is a proven winner, a leader and a competitor who we believe will raise the bar for this organization on and off the field.”
Dempsey started his professional career in MLS with the New England Revolution in 2004. After winning MLS Rookie of the Year honors in his first season seven goals and one assist, he helped the Revs reach MLS Cup in his next two seasons, posting 10 goals and nine assists in 2005 and eight goals and four assists in 2006 to earn MLS Best XI honors in both seasons.