Dempsey, U.S. stars find promising new homes with late transfers
Silly season for Americans abroad this summer is over. But what a silly season it was.
All of the conjecture, speculation and rumor chasing gave way to tangible moves in the final days for some of U.S. Soccer's biggest names. Clint Dempsey to Tottenham. Carlos Bocanegra to Racing Santander. Maurice Edu to Stoke City. Oguchi Onyewu to Malaga. As a result, the outlook for all four players is considerably brighter than it was just a week ago at this time. Consider that Dempsey was in purgatory, caught between a Fulham club with which he was synonymous and a wish to take a next step that made him ostracized at Craven Cottage, yet not in high demand elsewhere; Bocanegra and Edu were mired in Scotland's fourth tier, with Bocanegra's name oddly going unmentioned in transfer circles until the final day; Onyewu was passed over on the depth chart at Sporting Lisbon and became an afterthought after a rebound 2011-12 season to the point that the year ahead looked hopeless.
Now, Dempsey has made his move to one of England's premier sides, a Spurs team that needs his attacking qualities after managing just single goals in each of three games en route to a 0-1-2 start. Bocanegra, the U.S. captain, is not in Spain's top flight, but he is in a substantially better position to maintain his top form and duties now than he would have been playing for Rangers. After years of succeeding in Scotland, Edu gets the opportunity to prove his worth at a higher level with his three-year deal at Britannia Stadium. Onyewu may end up being just as big of a winner, as instead of rotting on the bench in Portugal, he can fight for a place on a team already in the UEFA Champions League and learn under well-traveled, accomplished coach Manuel Pellegrini.
The key figure, though, is Dempsey. Arguably the U.S. national team's most important player, he could not afford to be left out at Fulham going forward, and as it is he enters the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica completely out of form but offers too much promise to not be called in. For Dempsey, who signed a three-year deal with Tottenham after the transfer, the move to White Hart Lane is ideal. He had made no secret about wanting to play Champions League soccer, something that Tottenham will compete for considering its talent. In the meantime, Dempsey still gets the European soccer experience by playing in the UEFA Europa League, a stage he has starred on before. By staying in London, where he has been based for almost the last six years, he has the added bonus of not having to uproot his life and family. For all the Liverpool talk, Arsenal speculation and late interest by also-rans Aston Villa and Sunderland, Tottenham, one of Jurgen Klinsmann's former teams in his playing days, was always the best option if the club were to show interest, and a potentially drastic situation evolved into an ideal one as the final whistle on the transfer window neared.
"I think the new team is a perfect fit," Dempsey told The Associated Press on Monday. "They qualified for a place last season for Champions League but missed out on a technicality. But it's still in London. My family doesn't have to move far. My daughter, she can go to another international school and be on the same curriculum. It couldn't have worked out any better in that regard."
The off-field moves were a precursor to some top performances on the field for Americans this past week, as Terrence Boyd, Jonathan Spector and Jermaine Jones, all of whom were called up by Klinsmann for the two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, got on the scoreboard for their respective teams. They led the charge in the past week for Americans abroad, and here is how they and the rest of their compatriots fared (season statistics encompass all competitions):