By John Boyle
The Seattle Sounders appear to be on the verge of making a huge move that would bring U.S. National Team star Clint Dempsey, arguably one of the most accomplished American soccer players ever from England to Seattle.
Rumors have been flying in recent days that the Sounders were pursuing Dempsey, then on Friday ESPNFC.com first reported that the Sounders and English Premier League club Tottenham, Dempsey’s current team, are finalizing a transfer.
Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said he could not comment on the report.
The Sounders announced earlier in the week that Shalrie Joseph had agreed to a new contract that freed up a designated player slot, leading to speculation that a big move was coming before the transfer window closes next week. And the addition of Dempsey would certainly qualify as a big move.
Dempsey, 30, has been the U.S. team’s captain and most consistent player in recent years, and was a member of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup teams. His 35 international goals are the second-most in U.S. team history, and his 17 league goals for Fulham in 2011-2012 were the most ever by an American in the Premier League. That season led to a transfer to Tottenham, which made Dempsey the highest-paid American soccer player in history.
So why would a player still in his prime what to leave a top club in one of the world’s best leagues for MLS? Well for starters, Tottenham is reportedly close to adding a couple of forwards who could make playing time scarce for Dempsey this season. Yet even if Dempsey was playing less, he would still be making good money, so this deal with the Sounders must also be a very lucrative one.
When Dempsey was in Seattle with the U.S. team in June, he spoke very highly of soccer fans in the area, noting that walking through the city on a Sounders game-day reminded him of being in Europe. Following that game, Sounders and U.S. team forward Eddie Johnson, a close friend of Dempsey’s, said he couldn’t name names, but that more than one U.S. teammate told him that they’d like to play in Seattle some day. It appears we now know the identity of one of those players.