One of the oft-repeated themes coming out of Clint Dempsey's introductory interviews was the idea that he was feeling "stifled" in England. At various teams, Dempsey said he had coaches who wanted to bypass the midfield, never wanted him taking more than a couple touches on the ball and generally tried to beat the flair out of his game.
His return to MLS seems to have come with some kind of assurance that he was going to be allowed to express himself.
Through three games, it's pretty obvious that Dempsey is quite willing to "try shit," and that was never more obvious than Sunday. Whether it was the numerous no-look passes, the bicycle kick in traffic or the even more audacious attempt at a flying ninja kick right in front of the goal, Dempsey seemed intent on expressing himself at virtually every opportunity. I counted at least six different instances of Dempsey attempting something that could reasonably be deemed "trying shit."
In this game, most of those efforts were for naught. Dempsey's teammates didn't seem entirely ready for some of the no-look passes and the Timbers did a good job of not being lulled into any of the deception (but oh man, if that flying attempt at a back-heel had gone in...). At the same time, I can't help but be excited about where this could all lead.
Obviously, there's going to be a learning curve. There are going to be some turnovers and probably a few groan-inducing moments. It's not easy to know what a guy is thinking without really knowing him very well. In this case, it's going to take more than a handful of practices for the Sounders to start learning when Dempsey might try a no-look pass.
It's also going to take a few more days of consistent training for Dempsey to refine his flying kicks.
Personally, I'm willing to live with the growing pains. If the end result is that Dempsey gets to fully express his creative side, we're going to be treated to some pretty entertaining soccer. And assuming it doesn't get totally out of control, we should also be treated to some winning soccer.
I'll leave you with this: