He was sorely missed at Fulham. A striker of his calibre would have come in handy for the Cottagers in their attempt to stave off relegation. But Clint Dempsey is now playing up front for Seattle Sounders. With just over six weeks to go before the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014™, the 31-year old is in impressive form in the Major League Soccer (MLS) and was duly namedApril’s Player of the Month. The Texas-born forward has scored seven goals in four matches since returning from a two-match suspension in the second half of March. Two strikes came within the space of seven minutes in the last match of the April when Seattle Sounders beat Colorado Rapids 4-1 to leave his team topping the league after eight games (5 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats).
Dempsey has scored eight goals this season and is currently on course to break the MLS record. He is partnered up front for the Sounders by Obafemi Martins who used to turn out for VfL Wolfsburg in Germany and Birmingham and Newcastle in England. The Nigerian has been linking up well with Dempsey since the start of the season. Moving around like “two stars orbiting together” the striking duo is “brutally effective,” wrote the Guardian in England. The two top strikers have scored 11 goals between them for their club which is based in the US state of Washington.
They also set up scoring opportunities for each other – Dempsey has provided four assists and Martins three.
Loaned out to Fulham during the MLS break in January and February 2014, Dempsey’s fine form comes much to the delight of Jürgen Klinsmann. Team USA’s head coach is hoping the former Tottenham (2012-13 - 29 games/7 goals) and Fulham (2007-2012 - 184/50) player can conserve his form until the World Cup in Brazil where the national side will meet Portugal, Ghana and Germany in Group G. The USA captain has great memories of the friendly against Germany played almost exactly one year before the start of the World Cup. In scoring two brilliant goals to put the US boys 3-1 and 4-1 up, he played a big part in his team’s 4-3 win against the Germans in Washington on 2 June 2013.
“It’s great that Clint is back on song and playing a part in almost every Seattle goal. It’s a really good sign for us,” said Klinsmann. “Clint is profiting from the hard training sessions he had at Fulham in January and February,” explained USA’s German coach who spoke out in defence of Dempsey in the middle of March. He felt the two-match ban handed out to the striker by the USA football association’s disciplinary committee was unjust. Dempsey was suspended after the 2-1 loss in the top match against Toronto for serious foul play. He was accused of hitting Mark Bloom below the belt with a flailing arm when going for the ball with the Toronto defender. Dempsey should be given more protection said Klinsmann when reacting to the incident. He himself had be fouled far too often in the game against the Canadians.
Coached by German-born Sigi Schmid, the Sounders’ season only took off recently when they beat Dallas (3-2), Chivas USA (2-1) and Colorado (4-1). Prior to the wins, they played out a spectacular 4-4 draw in the Pacific derby against neighbours Portland Timbers. Seattle lead the Western Conference with 16 points ahead of Dallas (8 games/16 points), Real Salt Lake (8/14), Colorado (7/11) and Vancouver Whitecaps (8/10). Los Angeles Galaxy is back in sixth but have only played five matches (8 points). Having lost three and drawn five, Portland are still without a win.
Heading the Eastern Conference table is Columbus Crew. However with only 12 points from seven games they have won fewer points than the top three Western clubs. The Crew are having a surprisingly good season and are above champions Sporting Kansas (7/11). With a quarter of the regular season over in the east, there is a different look to this year’s table as third and fourth placed DC United (7/11) and New England Revolution (8/11) have improved on their last campaigns. Red Bull New York (9/11) is back in fifth one ahead of Toronto, who have only played six matches, in sixth. After getting off to a good start, the Canadians have since lost to Salt Lake (3-0), Colorado (1-0) and Dallas (2-1). Though they have only lost once Chicago Fire are still winless after drawing their other six matches.