Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey savors 50th USMNT goal, but crucial win means more

CHICAGO – Clint Dempsey was well aware what was on the line when he stepped up to the ball to take a penalty kick in the ninth minute of Tuesday’s Copa America Centenario game against Costa Rica.

A goal would put the U.S. ahead for the first time in the tournament and set an early tone in what Jurgen Klinsmann had called a "must-win" game. As a sidebar, Dempsey also knew where his own personal statistics stood.

Another goal would give him 50 for his U.S. career.

Dempsey looked down at the ball, started his approach, stutter-stepped and calmly placed a shot with his right foot into the lower right corner as the Costa Rica’s goalkeeper, Patrick Pemberton, dove in the opposite direction. The personal milestone was reached, and the team was on the way to a crucial 4-0 victory.

“You kind of know where you are in terms of the goals you score for the team,” Dempsey said. “Good to be a part of that club of 50 goals. But the most important thing is we got the win tonight. We’re still alive in this tournament. We've got one more game to get the job done to get out of this group.”

Dempsey’s 50th goal game came in his 126th appearance for the US. He’s second for most career U.S. goals behind Landon Donovan, who scored 57.

It wasn't the first memorable goal Dempsey has scored at Soldier Field in Chicago. His first international goal for the U.S. came at Soldier Field, against England on May 28, 2005.

Dempsey's contribution to the victory over Costa Rica wasn't limited to his milestone goal, however. He also linked up with Jermaine Jones in the 37th minute for a goal and then connected with Bobby Wood for another goal in the 42nd minute. The US led Costa Rica 3-0 at halftime, and Dempsey had a productive 45 minutes with a goal and two assists.

The US had switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 around the 30th minute of the first half, but Dempsey didn’t think that was necessarily why he produced more in the closing minutes of the half.

“In games, things change,” Dempsey said. “You can get different looks. I just think getting the ball in the pockets there, getting in a position where you can run off the back line and cause problems [was the reason for the production]. I thought in the 4-3-3 and in the 4-4-2 I was able to do that in the first half.”

Dempsey also showed an ability in the half to play well with different players. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he saw Dempsey and Wood begin to create some chemistry. Dempsey said the feeling extended beyond Wood.

“I thought I was gelling with a lot of guys out there, “ Dempsey said. “But, yeah, Bobby [Wood] makes good runs. I was able to find him. He was able to get a goal. I found Jermaine, also Gyasi Zardes. I think it’s just a good relationship with everyone on the team.”



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