Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fulham's Player of the Season: Clint Dempsey

Clinton "Deuce" Dempsey joined Fulham in January 2007 from MLS New England Revolution for $4million. Dempsey's dream of playing in Europe was achieved. Fulham was the ideal club at the time for an American trying to find his way in Premier League waters. Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra had made Fulham their home. Clint Dempsey came into a club where Americans are well received by the fans.

Prior to his arrival to the English Premier League, Clint Dempsey established himself as a superstar in the MLS. He was drafted by the New England Revolution in 2004. Playing in his favoured attacking midfield position, he scored seven goals in his rookie season and was promptly named MLS Rookie of The Year 2004.

He followed that rookie season with an equally eye-catching second season. In 2005, he scored 10 goals and had nine assists, including five game-winning goals (which was the third best in the MLS). He was named to the MLS Best XI.

After the 2006 World Cup, where he scored the side's only goal against Ghana, Dempsey won United States men's soccer highest individual honour when he was named Honda Player of the Year for 2006.

Dempsey announced his arrival to the Premier League in dramatic fashion. Primarily used as sub in his first season in the EPL, he came off the bench and scored the only goal in a must-win match against Liverpool in the penultimate game of the season. That win virtually guaranteed Fulham Premier League status for another season.

2007/2008 saw another season of struggle for Fulham as they battled relegation yet again. Clint Dempsey contributed six goals and two assists, playing a key role as Fulham negotiated an unlikely escape to stay in the Premier League. He ended the 2007/08 season as Fulham's top scorer with eight goals.

This season, Dempsey has again proven indispensable amid an uncertain start to the season. Nevertheless, he has started 28 games, made 835 successful passes (79% accuracy), and made 62 successful tackles (67% success rate). He has scored seven goals and made 2 assists, making him joint-top scorer at Fulham alongside Andy Johnson.
With Dickson Etuhu providing the needed defensive solidity and Danny Murphy as the creative fulcrum of Fulham's midfield, Dempsey is able to do what he does best i.e. harassing opposition into mistakes and making late runs into the box. Possessing bags of energy and immense athleticism, he has been a tireless workhorse in midfield.

He has superb close control and excellent technical abilities. His anticipation and late arrivals into the box enable him to score close-range goals, toe-pokes or tap-ins. He is an exceptionally good header of the ball, scoring headed goals ala Tim Cahill. His tenacity in midfield combined with his dribbling skills frequently results in opponents fouling him (49 fouls won).

When Fulham need energy and enthusiasm from someone, the team looks to Clint Dempsey to provide it this season He has assumed the high energy playing style of Jimmy Bullard ensuring that Bullard's absence is not missed in Craven Cottage. He has a very charismatic and infectious personality and that has endeared him to the Fulham fans and players alike.

With a gunslinger's name, Clint Dempsey is ready to lead Fulham's challenge in the new Europa League. The impact of Brian McBride's departure has been significantly reduced by the emergence of another talented American soccer star.

For me, Fulham's Player of The Season 2008/09 is...Clint Dempsey.


Nicholas Leong said...

I think the whole of Fulham had an exceptional season. But I don't know, I think Mark Schwarzer would have gotten my vote :)

TheFlatBackFour said...

Schwarzer was great, and I can understand the rationale for him. The Australian made 138 saves with a saves/shots ratio of 80% - the best in the league. Still there is not much a keeper can do to influence a game, in that context, I would still give it to an outfielder. Great comment, Nicholas!

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