(Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
By Nate Hanson, Sports Radio KJR
The Sounders shocked the MLS world with the addition of Clint Dempsey to an up-and-coming team. Former US National Team and Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller said the signing shows MLS is determined to improve and climb the ranks amongst global soccer leagues.
“This is the first time that MLS has made a significant investment in bringing home an American player,” he said. “And a player that they think can truly help promote the game to a level that they haven’t seen before.”
Dempsey signed a three-and-a-half year contract worth $24 million, the largest base salary in MLS history. MLS also paid a $9 million transfer fee to Tottenham Hotspur, Dempsey’s Premier League team. While big name stars such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry made the move across the pond, Dempsey is the first American star to make the switch. Unlike Beckham and Henry, Dempsey is in prime of his career.
“This signing ranks right at the very top,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
Dempsey is regarded as the best American player. He’s been the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year the last two years. He’s made big goals in each of the last two World Cups. He’s scored the second most goals in US national team history. The individual achievements go on and on.
According to SI.com, Dempsey was willing to play in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle. Dempsey has been in the crosshairs of majority-owner of Joe Roth for years. By making his vision a reality, the Sounders front office proved it is serious about bringing an MLS title to Seattle.
“The ownership group is trying very hard to bring MLS championships to Seattle,” Keller said. “The message that the club has sent is we’re gonna look underneath every rock and try to make a deal happen that nobody thought was possible to try to win championships.”
This is not Dempsey’s first stint in the MLS. He played for the New England Revolution from 2004-2006 before joining Fulham in the Premier League. Keller said Dempsey’s MLS experience will be much different this go-around, in part because of the Seattle fanbase.
“This is a fan group that truly, truly appreciates what the players do,” he said. “You give them a hundred percent, and they’re gonna give you 110.”
The signing of Dempsey is perhaps the most significant signing in Seattle sports history. The MLS hopes Dempsey’s move will become a trend as the league continues to grow. Sounders fans hope Dempsey’s arrival coincides with the arrival of an MLS Cup.
You can listen to the entire interview as well as part of the Sounders press conference introducing Dempsey.. Also, you can click here for an in-depth look on the signing process for the Sounders.