In the showcase matchup of the MLS weekend, Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders went down to a new-look Toronto FC side. Dempsey displayed the best and worst of his ability by scoring a goal and crossing the line on his opponents. It has been a disasterous run of form for Dempsey since he last scored a goal in October with a failed loan to Fulham. Add in the not so helpful play while with the USMNT and many fans were thinking this could be the end of Deuce as we know him. In today’s match, he gave fuel to both supporters and haters by displaying anger and quality in a 90-minute match.
Toronto went up 2-0 early in the match to add to Dempsey’s frustration. He was tackled hard a couple times and had some visible rug burns on his elbows from the turf in Seattle. Doneil Henry and Steven Caldwell were stifling the Sounders’ attack as neither Dempsey nor Obafemi Martins could find space. When they did get into the attacking third, lazy passes were picked off or shots were blocked before they even made it to Julio Cesar. The Sounders only managed two shots on target the entire match.
Maybe it was 14 matches without scoring combined with the constant pressure of TFC, but Dempsey showed his anger by hitting Mark Bloom in the nether region. The officials missed it, but there is a good chance that MLS disciplinary committee will be calling. The NBC Sports cameras caught Bloom on the turf writhing in pain and showed the clear offense by Dempsey. The USMNT captain also made two other flailing attempts during the match with at least one that should have warranted a yellow card, but Dempsey went unpunished.
It was in the second half that we saw Dempsey’s other side as he linked up with Martins for the lone Sounders’ goal. Martins found a nice pass to Dempsey who lifted the ball up to himself to drive it low into the net. Dempsey was demonstrative after the goal as he celebrated with Martins, who looked a bit scared of Deuce. Dempsey had the ball all over the attacking zone for the last half hour of the match. He was picking out the right pass and finding spaces. He even did a good job of tracking back and being the outlet. Maybe this is the goal that will take away the frustrations that fueled his lashing out.
Dempsey has always had raw ability and the “me against the world” attitude. It seems like he has more people turning on him now with the added pressure of the World Cup and that fans in the United States root against him base on MLS alliances. It’s that attitude that drew many fans toward him and the don’t tread on me saying became a rallying cry as much as a gimmick. Nevertheless, today’s play did nothing to quell either side of the argument on Dempsey.