|Photo by NathanF on Flickr|
Full Disclosure: Although Correspondent Scott wrote this piece, Correspondents Mark and Ed unwittingly contributed to it via drunken comments made while watching the USA-Guatemala game on 10/16/2012.
Clint Dempsey led the Premier League in scoring by a midfielder last year; was behind only Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Kun Aguero in scoring overall; and had previously not only played a pivotal role in saving his then-new team from relegation in 2007, but also went on to be a key to their run to the finals of the Europa League after that. He was rookie of the year in his domestic league before making the jump to the EPL and has become the backbone of his national team. With such a resume, one would think that Clint would be revered, respected and rewarded. Instead it seems he is only begrudgingly acknowledged by the British media and “worth” only a paltry £6 million in a transfer to Tottenham (Liverpool not wanting to pay a dollar more, to their detriment).
So, the question is “Why?” A large sampling of three biased Americans agree that it’s because he is American. Give him a passport of any EU country or an Asian country and he would be heralded as the second coming, a la Shinji Kagawa. But, despite rivaling Chicharito’s jam-packed highlight reel of being in the right place at the right time for a sliding tap-in goal, his stars are overpowered by his stripes which merely serve to imprison him in a confounding and belittling cell of second-rank status. I tell ya’....
If respect were measured by the impact one has on a team, Clint would shine since his previous team has plummeted and his current team has soared. Or if it were measured by that other uncanningly reliable barometer of truth – gambling (or in this case, fantasy soccer) – he would similarly sparkle as everybody wanted the tattooed scoring machine last year. For crying out loud, he deserves at least a modicum of respect for joining the ranks of professional athletes whose insanely hot wives wouldn’t look at them twice were it not for their ability to earn obscene amounts of money making balls succumb to their will.
Yet, despite the attention, deservedly so, that Landon Donovan gets, it’s the tattooed, perpetually sweaty/angry Dempsey who now seems to singlehandedly lift team USA when it needs it most, whether it be via a brace against Guatemala or the three other goals he scored in the latest round of qualifying. He’s a talented warrior - when he steps on the pitch the other team is the enemy and he let’s them know it, from scowls and jawing to shoulder shrugs to the nearest official. Fortunately, he doesn’t go down as easily as he used to. Now he just seems genuinely to be offended that the opposing player would disrupt his genius with a pedestrian foul. As if he feels he has risen from the redneckness of Nacogdoches to the royalty of London, that the commoners who deign to compete with him should have the good manners not to touch him. Of course by royal fiat it is decreed that he can touch them as hard as he likes.
Even his back story is worthy of the respect not given - staying after practice to shoot low and in the corner over and over again (a trademark Dempsey goal), and driving 2 hours each way to Dallas from Nacogdoches as a child to pit his burgeoning talent against greater competition.
But just like that King of Comedy - he of the tie-wriggling, self-deprecating humor - this USA star continues to get no respect… I tell ya’.
This is farlieonfootie for October 20.