“What’s going on?
Tell me what’s going on.”
A few days ago we launched a little primer entitled, “What’s Up With Clint?,” to get us thinking on how the still very young (CD is all of 26 years old) and in the prime of his career Deuceman has become virtually irrelevant for the US team over the past few months. Mind you, when we say irrelevant, we’re talking about being a difference-maker within the game. Clint has scored goals–but those moments have accounted for easily less than 2% of the time he’s been on the pitch for the USMNT. Remember the fierce Clint Dempsey attacking the Italian iron curtain defense at will and with reckless abandon (though not successfully) in the 2006 World Cup, yeah so do we. We want him back.
Today, we were jogged with the news that Fulham have signed former Chelsea and Newcastle left flanksman Damien Duff to their squad. Note, if you had the pleasure of watching Chelsea’s first year under supercoach Jose Mourinho in the 2003-2004 EPL campaign, their midfield, from right to left, of Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, and Damien Duff was just a pleasure to watch.
Pardon the digression, with Duff in the mix, I would dare say Dempsey’s pitch time would be just slightly threatened, but he just Hancocked a 4-year deal at the Craven Cottage.
We also think Duff will act in support because Clint has simply been a better man for club than country lately. While his opening weekend assist was a once in awhile can-you-believe-that deflection off Bobby Zamora, his opening week chops show supreme skill, tactically efficiency and smart movement–qualities that have been lacking when Dempsey steps on the pitch for the Americans lately.
“Brother, brother, brother
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today”
Here’s some reasonings:
Obervations from TSG commentators: TSG’ers suggest it was either the Mexico’s strategy or the Deuce being frustrated with the American style
“I think Mexico’s strategy was to attack mainly on the right side. while watching the game I did notice that alot of times Mexico stopped the ball and slowly got the ball over to the right. where dos santos was waiting to attack.”
“1) I think Mexico made it a priority not to let Dempsey or Donovan beat them.
2) Clint is uber frustrated with the tactics of Bradley. His style of play is being stifled.”
Observations from Fulham supporters: Fulham fans (and coach) notice Clint’s play as well as and point to boredom or exhaustion
From Timmy G at The Offside blog series (great piece to read here)
“Since the (crap)fiesta in the ‘Rica (Costa Rica loss) up to today’s demolition by Brazil (Concacaf Final), Clint seems more than exhausted. His body language is reminding me of Craig Bellamy in a Wales Shirt, or Juan Román Riquelme in an Argentina kit. Its the inexplicable “I’m beyond this” gait and aura.”
From Fullham FC coach Roy Hogsden: (Hogsden points to exhaustion in his comments about keep Clint in top match shape)
“The element of fatigue we can’t write off,” explained Hodgson. “We gave him three complete weeks of rest between the Confederations Cup and pre-season training. He didn’t come to Australia with us.”
And finally our observations and opinion:
For my part, I think all of the observations above have some validity. When I’ve watched Clint over the past 6 months (mostly for the USMNT, damn you Setanta and Fox Sports), here’s what I’ve seen:
- None of the long runs to the corner or to the far post looking for a cross, lead pass or through ball. To me that smacks a bit of exhaustion. Remember this!
(gosh, that was well done by Beasley)
- I also haven’t seen a progression in tactics for Deuce during the course of a game. What I mean by this, he doesn’t change what he’s doing during the game if it’s not working. He’s prone to overhandling (is that the right word?) the ball and to overthinking how he’ll beat his man–and then worse trying that same thing out next time he’s got the marble. I see very little combination play and even worse very little passion for attack. That speaks to disillusionment, either with the offensive scheme, his deployment or the coach.
If you followed Clint Dempsey at Fulham, you saw him shackled to the pine and the subject of loan rumors early in the season last year, Demps perservered through his weekend relegation status to be a factor as a sub and then in the starting XI after Coach Hogsden started to see his commitment and impact. As well, Clint who started for America’s team on the right flank against Mexico last week, was asked to learn the left flank at Fulham, no qualms there.
Given that data about his character, I would think about chalking up Dempsey’s current performance to exhaustion, but the Riquelme comment
from above keeps nagging at me. I remember seeing Riquelme for his national team and how, still being a dominant player on the world scene, he just mailed it in–and something about the motions of CD on the pitch harkens that picture of Riquelme. Maybe not to nearly the degree of Riquelme, but I can see it.
I think Bob Bradley knows it also–while Bob commented that the conditions at the Azteca got to Clint, he’s also is quickly developing and showing pitch time to Stu Holden. While Dempsey is moving up to strike when the reserve right wing comes in showing Bob’s continued faith in the Fulham man, it would not surprise me if next time you saw Holden sub in directly for Dempsey if he continues to falter.
So my observation, I’m going with two parts exhaustion, one part fatigue–that fatigue being some concoction of playing too many games on the USMNT and/or the offensive formations and lately, their stagnations.
Gosh, TSG can’t wait for the El Salvador game. In our mind that game will answer oh-so-many questions from the lineup selection, to the US offensive tactics, and, of course, Clint Dempsey’s position and value on the team in the eyes of the American fan.
“You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today “
Some great commentary below, specifically something Matthew N said that I wanted to get up here in the main section. We’re discussing the player performance vis-a-vis the system that player is in.
Matthew N.’s comment about Dempsey being in the wrong system was pretty well stated:
If you take Tim Lincecum off the mound and tell him to play third base, he isn’t going to be an all star no matter how hard he plays. Playing third just isn’t his game. It is the same with Dempsey. He scores on set pieces and whatnot because these parts of the game are the same no matter what brand of soccer you play, yet he struggles with the strategy-less US national team while simultaneously performing quite well at Fulham. There is a reason for this dichotomy, and the only thing I can think of is because of the drastic differences between the way the two clubs play football.
Just checked the TV Schedule for Fox Soccer this weekend, Aug 22nd – 23rd. Guess what the feature game Sunday morning PST is? That’s right Chelsea vs. Fullham. Excellent.