Our Clint

There was a moment during Fulham’s dark winter when Clint Dempsey received the ball with his back to goal and a defender behind him. With incredible precision, he flipped the ball over his head and spun past the defender, retrieving the ball behind the defense, clear on goal.

Three steps later he was caught from behind by the recovering defender and coolly dispossessed.

This is our Clint. It’s not that he followed up a brilliant move with a boneheaded one, but rather that talented though he is, he is also limited.

He’s quick but not fast. He’s a good passer and a somewhere between good and great dribbler, but not a great striker of the ball, either shooting or crossing. He’s not tall, but he’s good in the air. He’s tough. He is a lot of things, but he’s also not a lot of things.

He has missed more than a few sitters this year but he also dropped a pin point thirty yard pass onto Bouazza’s feet from a rabona.

He’s Jimmy Bullard without the free kicks or the effervescent leadership. He’s Simon Davies without the pace or the crossing ability. He’s Danny Murphy without the vision or command of the game. He’s Brian McBride without the height or x-factor.

It’s been well documented that he missed a lot of soccer in his teens for various reasons. Maybe this is why he is, if not maddeningly inconsistent then consistently “almost.”

It’s clear that he can do a job for Fulham. Except for a brief spell under Hodgson, which was probably due to fatigue as much as anything, he’s been one of Fulham’s more featured players.

Players have done more with less and done less with more. On the National Team I always want him in the game, with Fulham he’s a player I’m never upset to see in the side, but never crushed to see dropped. Maybe he’s not ideal for the pace of the premiership. Maybe in another league with more space, his ball control skills could make more of an impact.

With Clint, you are always going to see what you want to see. A poster on TIFF the other day speculated that he might play some holding midfielder next season, and instantly I thought “I can see that.” He played some DM in college and in his early career with the Revs, so why not? But maybe the answer is to stop looking for what he could be and start looking at what he is. And as soon as I know, I’ll tell you.

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