It has been a long year for Clint Dempsey. Or, more accurately, it has been a long 14 months. Since joining the Seattle Sounders last August -- ending a two-month break from competitive matches -- Dempsey has appeared in 60 matches for club and country.
He's done this, basically, without taking a real break. The only time off he had was handful of weeks between the Sounders' being bounced from the playoffs in early November and his reporting to Fulham sometime before his post-Jan. 1 loan. And it's not just the minutes, either.
While 60 games over 14 months is not exactly unheard of for a world-class soccer player -- Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, has played 73 matches for club and country during the same time -- what adds to the wear and tear is how much traveling Dempsey has done. During these 14 months, he's spent time on three continents and traveled all over North America. He might not have racked up more frequent flyer miles than any other player, but he's probably among the Top 10.
It's all taken some toll. At various times, Dempsey has complained of being tired and after Saturday's game he acknowledged that he's basically been playing "a year and a half nonstop" and didn't sound excited about it.
This is all relevant now not because we should be worried about Dempsey's ability to finish out the playoffs -- he seems more than up for that -- but about rumors that recently surfaced suggesting he'd go out on another loan this offseason. Queens Park Rangers, Aston Villa and Stoke City are alls supposedly interested, just as they were last year when he agreed to join Fulham, who won't be in the running this year as they've been relegated to the Championship.
Now, it should be said that the Mirror is not exactly the most trust-worthy source and this particular report has literally zero sourcing, so it's entirely possible that they are simply speculating.
But it's worth wondering if Dempsey is seriously considering a loan. When asked about it today, Sigi Schmid didn't quash the rumor. Schmid also pointed out that Dempsey's off-season loan last year was something specific to it being a World Cup year, and last year Adrian Hanauer suggested the loan option was a one-year thing.
That said, Dempsey is the kind of player who gets to make demands and if he wants to go loan, it's hard to see the Sounders standing in his way.
Hopefully, Dempsey doesn't actually want to go on loan, though. Sure, Jurgen Klinsmann would probably appreciate the effort. Klinsmann has made no bones about his distaste for Dempsey choosing to return to MLS, rather than slugging it out for time in England or elsewhere in Europe. And even though there's no World Cup coming up, there is a CONCACAF Gold Cup and maybe Klinsmann is worried about Dempsey being sharp enough for that...
That, of course, would be ridiculous, if not completely unbelievable. Even if Dempsey actually takes this offseason off, the reality is that it won't be very long. The Sounders could be playing all the way up to Dec. 7 -- which will likely factor into the decision -- and then they'll likely report for training camp in late January or early February. That's not much time off.
And if Dempsey is wondering what good an offseason can do, he only needs to ask Obafemi Martins. As we all probably remember, Martins had similar -- if more exacerbated -- issues last year. He gave himself a real offseason and responded with the best statistical outlay of his professional career, stayed healthy and generally seems to have been enjoying himself a lot more.
Dempsey came out of last year's loan just fine, admittedly. But putting that kind of unnecessary mileage on a body that's now on the wrong side of 30 is not a good idea. Let's hope he sees it that way, too.