Growing up I had this best friend Eric. Thing is, Eric was an asshole. The last time we were together regularly was when I got out of the Army. He and his brother were in GSSL Division 1 at the time and invited me to play. It was a pretty good team, really athletic and most people had some high school and/or college experience. I was just really fit, because Army. Eric was a hothead. He'd get into it with the other team and the ref and sometimes he'd even scream at his teammates. I didn't care.
Eric was one of my best friends in junior high and high school. He talked me into doing stupid shit. We got in arguments. We'd play Nintendo. He'd get in a dumb fight with his older brother. We'd play Dungeons & Dragons. He'd be a player with the ladies. We'd play Axis & Allies. We'd throw sticks and rocks at each other.
Eric joined the Army the year before I did, with our other best friend, Justin. Our service time and space didn't overlap. I did see one of Eric's older brothers when I was at the language school, but never saw Eric while we served. Then, bumming around Bellevue Community College or Southcenter, or somewhere else, I bumped into Eric, and boom friendship again. It didn't matter that Eric was an asshole quite often, because we loved each other and were great friends. We've been out of touch since that team got kicked out of the GSSL because Eric was a little too much on the wrong side of the Laws of the Game. But if I bumped into Eric, I would know that he'd be both an asshole and a man I still love.
Clint Dempsey also is an asshole. He's been brash and a bit reckless for a long time.
That was the first time Clint broke a man's face. It wasn't the last.
Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez has defended striker Clint Dempsey against claims he deliberately used his elbow to inflict the facial injury that will almost certainly keep Chelsea skipper John Terry out of this week's Champions League clash against Valencia.
Terry underwent an operation on a depressed fracture of a cheekbone sustained in a first half aerial collision with Dempsey during Saturday's 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Deuce has tussled with teammates in practice, once trying to follow his "opponent" into the locker room after the coaching staff broke up the fight.
He regularly mocks referees with his fake applause, even did so Tuesday night after his sending off.
Clint Dempsey made sure he let the other referee know, too pic.twitter.com/tNlierGSUO— Jose Rivera (@notjoserivera) June 17, 2015
At times, Dempsey is brash with the media.
Clearly, his Tuesday night U.S. Open Cup performance was something else.
Clint grabs some paperwork from the ref, throws it, picks it back up, and rips it in half, gets sent off. https://t.co/jsbtXYgm4m— Jose Rivera (@notjoserivera) June 17, 2015
Everyone had a little bit of fun, and then the worries about the length of suspension started.
I don't care. I still love Clint Dempsey. I will still remember the rumors and eventual signing of Captain America. Without Clint Dempsey, there is no Hydra, there is no drift compatibility, there may not even be an Obafemi Martins still on the team.
For all the shit that Dempsey does that is negative, we get that. We get that almost every week. We get salutes, power fists and Oba flips. He's quite probably the greatest outfield player in the history of our nation, and the Sounders.
He is a modern sports hero. Clint is more like a Tony Stark than Superman. There's an edge to him, a little bit of injustice. He is a Barry Bonds without the steroids, but with the grating personal attitude and otherworldly abilities.
Clint Dempsey isn't Ken Griffey Jr or Russell Wilson with their polished personas. He's Marshawn Lynch or Randy Johnson. His harsh edges, his asshole-ishness are part of the package.
Damn, I love Clint Dempsey. I love him as a Sounder. I love him for every single flaw and I love him for every single goal. I don't care about Clint Dempsey the man. I love Clint Dempsey the Sounder, one of the finest soccer players this league has seen.
Clint Dempsey is going to be suspended. He earned that. He will be fined. He earned that too. There should be no question about his place with the Seattle Sounders FC. To paraphrase A Few Good Men:
You want him on that pitch. You need him on that pitch.
Seattle Sounders soccer is not what it is without Clint Dempsey, the asshole that you choose to love.