Clint Dempsey's last year has been a whirlwind. He left the prestige of the English Premier League for a return to where is career started, MLS. He inherited the U.S. men's national team's captain's armband from Carlos Bocanegra. He had his form dip upon his arrival in Seattle, only to see the goals start to pour in -- and the sighs of relief start to exhale from U.S. fans -- at the start of the 2014 Seattle Sounders campaign.
The 31-year-old Nacogdoches, Texas, native's story is one of grit, determination, attitude and skill. No player on the U.S. national team is as ambitious on the ball, and no player on the USA's final 23-man World Cup roster has as many international goals (37 and counting) as Dempsey. Jurgen Klinsmann has turned to Dempsey for increased leadership in addition to consistent production, and given what looms ahead for the Yanks, Dempsey has quite the task ahead of him to help the Americans return to the knockout stage for a second straight competition.
The USA is facing a bona fide Group of Death in Brazil, but if there's one player who won't bat an eye at the daunting task ahead of him, it's Dempsey. He's been overcoming the odds his whole life.