U.S. national soccer team star Clint Dempsey will become Seattle Sounders FC’s newest designated player, perhaps as early as Saturday, according to major news organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Sounders would not comment.
Dempsey, a 30-year-old forward/midfielder, has been property of Tottenham Hotspur. ESPNFC.com reported Friday that the English Premier League club and the Sounders were finalizing details of the transfer, while the Mirror of England reported the agreement as a done deal. Other news organizations claimed independent confirmation as the evening progressed.
The Sounders, who play a home game against FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, had opened a designated player position Thursday by signing midfielder Shalrie Joseph to a new contract that does not include DP status.
Asked Friday morning about the chances of signing a third DP
to join Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales before the transfer window closes Thursday, coach Sigi Schmid said “there’s a number of players that (the club) has discussed and talked about, so there’s a number of different options.”
Major League Soccer allowed its clubs to sign up to three designated players, whose salaries do not count fully against MLS’ otherwise hard salary cap. That allows teams to bring into the league the kinds of stars who could not be afforded otherwise.
Dempsey qualifies in spades. He is the second-leading goal scorer in U.S. national team history, as well as Fulham’s career leader with 50 EPL goals. His 5 o’clock-stubbled face is among the most recognizable in North American soccer.
A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, he attended Furman University and began his professional career in 2004 as a member of the New England Revolution. He was voted MLS Rookie of the Year after scoring seven goals in 24 games.
He moved to Fulham of the EPL after the 2006 MLS season and to Tottenham last season.
Dempsey began his national team duty in 2003 as a U-20 player and made his senior team debut in 2004. He started two games for the 2006 World Cup team in Germany and was back on the 2010 World Cup team in South Africa, where he became the second American to score goals in two World Cups.
He has 35 goals over his national team career and has been voted U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year three times. He ranks 14th in club appearances, 13th in starts, ninth in assists and third in points.