By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Seattle Sounders designated player Clint Dempsey has signed a two-month loan agreement with Fulham FC of the English Premier League, the Sounders announced Tuesday.
The move had been expected, and the timing will allow Dempsey to return to the Sounders in time for their Major League Soccer regular-season opener March 8, when MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City visits CenturyLink Field.
Fulham plays eight league matches over the course of the loan, starting Jan. 1 with a match against West Ham United.
“It’s about a lot of different things for me,” Dempsey said in an interview with FulhamFC.com. “I wanted to get back to playing at the highest level, get back to top form, getting back at helping the team.”
Dempsey, 30, played with Fulham from 2007-2012, recording 52 goals and 18 assists in 184 appearances. He scored a career-high 17 goals in the 2011-12 season. He holds the record for most goals (57) by an American in the EPL.
“It feels good to be back,” Dempsey said. “This has always felt like my home in Europe.”
Dempsey, 30, signed with Sounders FC on Aug. 3. He made 12 appearances, contributing one goal and one assist.
“Clint had a few niggling injuries that I know were really frustrating for him,” Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said last week. “I know he didn’t have a lot of production, but I actually thought he was starting to integrate there at the end and playing really good soccer. He probably could have had three or four assists. They didn’t go in the goal, but he certainly put himself in position to have three, four, five goals. We’re really, really excited to get Clint and have him for the full year.”
Dempsey also is a member of the United States national team. However, that could cost him less time away in the coming year, as MLS is taking a break in its schedule during group play of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Sounders are expected to begin preseason training in the third week of January.