UPDATE: Just to bolster the case of bringing Dempsey back, Fulham has fired manager Rene Muelensteen and replaced him with Felix Magath.
The goal of loaning Clint Dempsey to Fulham was clear. It would give him some time with high quality players on a midtable (ideally) team in one of the strongest leagues in the world. This would help him prepare for the United States' trip to Brazil for the World Cup.
Things went wrong.
Fulham was a fragile 18th in the EPL at the end of 2013. Their goal differential a staggering five goals worse than the second worst team. The club failed in January and early February. They now sit at 20th and the goal differential is a dire sign. Clint played a bit in league play, but his ratings there weren't great.
|11-01-2014||Fulham||1 : 4||Sunderland||79'||6.18|
|18-01-2014||Arsenal||2 : 0||Fulham||90'||5.74|
|28-01-2014||Swansea||2 : 0||Fulham||71'||7.03|
|01-02-2014||Fulham||0 : 3||Southampton||25'||5.73|
They failed out of the FA Cup losing to Sheffield United. Clint went 120 minutes in that game. That was the last time he played or was even in the 18. Fulham's played twice since. They have only one more match in the month.
It might be in the best interest of both teams for the loan to end early. Since Clint arrived, Fulham have gone 0-5-0 in fixtures where he has featured. In fixtures where he has not played, they have gone 1-1-3. With the arrival of Lewis Holtby, he's not likely to make anything other than a substitute appearance against West Brom. Rene Meulensteen has seemed to favor Holtby in the CAM role since he arrived. Meulensteen has also abandoned the use of inverted wingers in the last two fixtures with good results. This leaves Clint without a position to play. About the only reason left for him to stay would be a scheduled team store appearance.
At Wednesday's practice, before Sigi knew that Dempsey would not play, or even be on the bench, in the loss to Liverpool the coach said that Seattle Sounders FC had not considered ending the loan early.
They should consider it strongly.
"Me and Clint have been in communication with each other and talking with each other. He feels he is definitely getting there fitness-wise and he wants to be sharp when he comes back to here," Coach Schmid said to the gathered media. "But when you're in a relegation battle, it's very emotionally taxing."
Seattle can improve his fitness just fine. He can learn to be sharp with this club. Clint can focus on the unique role he's going to play here as a forward in CAM-space with a former Nigerian National Team and one-time US National Teamer in front of him. There will be a Guatemalan and American to his left and right. A Cuban who would be in the US pool if things were a bit different behind him. The right back is now a CAPped American. The left back a former Costa Rican. The starting center backs include another former American National and a former Mali National. Depending on who wins the keeper battle it may also be a former American World Cup player.
No, the quality is not what he has at Fulham. It's not really close. But this is the quality of his club. It's pretty good. At least one player will be joining him in Brazil. Two others were at the 2010 World Cup.
They, and the fans frankly, could use having Clint Dempsey here and in Charleston. Even if he has to leave to for the friendly at Ukraine on March 5th Deuce would get a couple weeks of practice even with a break to see his family.
He would get a couple games prior to the start of the season. His "try shit" method of play wouldn't be a surprise, as it was last year during the Fall struggles.
Sounders fans saw exactly the pressures that a poor start create on an organization last year. In 2012 and 2009 the quick start helped alleviate some of the stresses of midseason slumps. With that World Cup thing dragging players away there is a danger of a forced slump this year. A hot start is key.
Having Clint Dempsey come back now helps that happen. Seattle is his future. It needs to be his present.
Andrew Beck of CottagersConfidential helped with this story.
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