Clint Dempsey has joined Landon Donovan at the top of the U.S. men's national team scoring mountain.
Dempsey scored his 57th career goal for the USA on Saturday night, tallying on a perfect free kick against Costa Rica in their CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal in Texas to match Donovan's national record.
Whereas Donovan scored his 57 goals in 156 matches, Dempsey needed just 136 to hit the mark. Donovan holds a significant advantage in assists, with his 58 far and away the most (Cobi Jones, with 22, is second). Dempsey has 20. Dempsey, though, is the third leading scorer among all active players in international soccer, trailing only Ballon d'Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, 75) and Lionel Messi (Argentina, 58).
“It’s kind of like golf. You go out there and put up the number you’re going to put up,” Dempsey told U.S. Soccer's website earlier this year. “Obviously there’s people in front of you and kind of know what you need to do, but if you’re the guy that’s leading the pack, then it’s up to you to push yourself.”
That U.S. honor now is shared by Dempsey, who is in line to play in a fourth World Cup–provided the USA qualifies. Dempsey taking part in Russia 2018 wasn't a certainty when his career was temporarily derailed by an irregular heartbeat ailment, but since returning to action, he's been more of the Dempsey of old, and now he has etched his name in U.S. Soccer lore.
“It would be great to break any record, but most importantly it’d be even better to qualify for the World Cup,” Dempsey said.
If he keeps scoring and leading the U.S. in its rebound during the CONCACAF Hex, he may well get both.