Clint Dempsey Retires Atop the American Record Books
The combative and prolific United States national team striker Clint Dempsey is retiring from soccer, according to the Seattle Sounders, his M.L.S. club.
The Sounders announced Wednesday that Dempsey — one of the most successful American soccer exports to Europe and a national-team mainstay who played and scored in three World Cups — has decided to walk away immediately, even though the M.L.S. regular season runs through the end of October.
“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” Dempsey, 35, said in a statement released by the Sounders. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride.
“I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
Dempsey, a native Texan widely referred to within the game as “Deuce,” returned to M.L.S. in a lucrative deal with Seattle in August 2013 after scoring a 57 goals in the English Premier League, a record for an American, in his stints with Fulham and Tottenham.
The Stoke City veteran Geoff Cameron told The New York Times in a January interview that Dempsey’s swagger and defiant nature made him a role model to American field players, such as Cameron, who followed Dempsey to England and other top leagues abroad.
“You had Timmy, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan — Americans have been known over here for the quality of our keepers,” Cameron said, referring to Tim Howard and others. “But no one really respects us players.
“Clint came over here and changed the game for us. He did it with a chip on his shoulder and he’s given me the encouragement to say, ‘I’m American, so what?’”
Dempsey played professionally for 15 years and is tied with Landon Donovan as the leading scorer for the U.S. men’s national team, with 57 goals. Dempsey made his national team debut in 2004 and went on to record 141 appearances in a U.S. shirt, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157).
After missing part of the Sounders’ championship season in 2016 with an irregular heartbeat that was initially feared to be career-threatening, Dempsey made a successful return last season and scored 12 goals for the Sounders to earn M.L.S. Comeback Player of the Year honors and play his way back onto the national team.
This season, however, Dempsey managed only one goal in 14 games and had slipped in the pecking order among Seattle attackers after the club signed the Peruvian international Raul Ruidiaz in June.
“As far as I’m concerned, Clint Dempsey is the greatest player in the history of our country,” Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “His mark on both our club and the United States men’s national team is indelible — and his hard-earned reputation as a trailblazer for our national in Europe helped paved the way for generations of future Americans abroad.”
Perhaps nothing typified Dempsey’s adventurous approach to the game more than the audacious goal he scored for Fulham against Juventus in the Europa League in 2010. Dempsey lobbed the goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti from a difficult angle outside the penalty area to help Fulham knock the Italian giants out of the competition.