United States national 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 themselves would not comment on the reports.
Dempsey, a 30-year-old forward/midfielder, has been property of Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. ESPNFC.com reported the EPL and MLS clubs were finalizing deals of the transfer on Friday, 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 on Thursday by signing midfielder Shalrie Joseph to a new contract that does not include DP status.
Asked on Friday about the chances of signing a new DP 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.”
Designated players’ salary do not count fully against MLS’ otherwise hard salary cap. That allows team 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 United States national team history, has seven seasons of EPL experience, and 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.After the 2006 season he moved to Fulham of the EPL and moved last season to Tottenham.
He 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.
He was back on the 2010 World Cup team and 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 player of the year three times. He ranks 14th in club appearances, 13th in starts, ninth in assists and third in points.