Yes, the rumors that Clint Dempsey is prepared to join MLS have started again. Yes, those rumors also say he's bound for the Seattle Sounders. This all seems absolutely crazy. So crazy, in fact, I wasn't going to write about them.
But some rumors are just too juicy to ignore and this is definitely one of them.
If you're on Twitter, you know this rumor has been swimming around for awhile. No one of any particular repute has given it any real attention, but suddenly a non-anonymous, actual soccer person tweeted this out earlier today:
The club interested in bringing Dempsey back to MLS is Seattle— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) August 1, 2013
Keith Costigan is by no means a household name, but he is a former professional player, current Fox Soccer employee and a Chivas USA academy coach. In other words, he's not just some dude.
While in and of itself, there doesn't seem to be much here, but a lot of other rumor accounts have been jumping on board with their own reports. I don't know that any of this means a move is likely, but it has contributed to there being a lot of noise.
There are still lots of reasons to be skeptical.
The biggest is that even if Dempsey is facing the prospects of very little playing time with Tottenham Hotspur, it seems unlikely that within the span of a year he'd go from forcing a move to improve his chances to play in Champions League to coming to MLS. But let's assume he's come to terms with that...
Spurs surely aren't going to let him go for nothing, right? But maybe Dempsey is worth more to MLS at this point than he is to other Champions League-level teams in Europe. So let's assume MLS is willing to pay the fee...
That still leaves the significant hurdle of how he goes from signing with MLS to landing with Seattle, who is second in the allocation order behind the Portland Timbers. As far as I know, Dempsey would have to go through allocation and I see virtually no reason the Timbers would cede their spot to help out the Sounders.
But surely there's a price that makes it worthwhile. The Chicago Fire gave up Chad Barrett and a couple first-round picks to get Brian McBride. Might the Timbers be willing to accept a trade along the lines of Steve Zakuani and a couple first-rounders for Dempsey's rights?
If you're the type of person that wants to believe this can happen, I guess this is the roadmap to making it so. It still seems like a crazy long shot to me, but a few weeks ago I had never heard of retention funds, thought all contracts were guaranteed on July 1 and that players couldn't be negotiated down from DP spots in the middle of the season. We know better now. If there's one thing I've learned it's that where there's a will there's a way in MLS.