Top Stories

Confederations Cup: Have we been too hard on Clint Dempsey?

Clint Dempsey 2 ( 

                                          Photo by

When rating the players for the 2009 Confederations Cup, the newly-created Castrol Player Rating Index  has taken into account all aspects of player activity, providing us with what is supposed to be a great way to measure the effectiveness and quality of the players participating. Based on the names at the top of the list you would think the system works pretty well. David Villa, Fernando Torres and Kaka are at the top, and deservedly so.

When you move just a notch below those names, however, you'll find a player whose presence has to be considered at least somewhat surprising. That player is Clint Dempsey.

The U.S. national team midfielder received the second-highest combined score for the tournament to date among midfielders, second only to Kaka. Dempsey's rating is the eighth-highest in the tournament, with Michael Bradley the next highest rated American at No. 10.

This development makes us wonder: Have we been too hard on Clint Dempsey?

I say we because I count myself among the many who thought Dempsey looked sluggish and ineffective for the first 255 or so minutes of the Confederations Cup, right up until he moved up top and delivered the U.S. national team's most important goal, the third score in the 3-0 win against Egypt.

After the U.S. team's 3-0 loss to Brazil I posted saying that it had to be assumed that Clint Dempsey would be benched because of fatigue and there were very few objections to the suggestion. No one has ever questioned Dempsey's qualities. He remains one of the team's top attacking players, and we saw against Egypt that he is still capable of his moments of brilliance, but for long stretches in the tournament he has at least appeared to fade and not have an impact.

I will admit that it isn't always to see all of a player's contributions while watching games on television. You don't see what goes on away from the ball and Dempsey's struggles with making an impact (pre-Egypt goal) had as much to do with teammates not finding him as because of his own failings. That said, I'm still a bit surprised to see his rating in the Castrol Ranking be so high.

It should also be noted that those same Castrol Rankings have Oguchi Onyewu has the fifth-lowest rated player in the tournament, with Jay DeMerit sixth. New York Red Bulls defender Andrew Boyens is the lowest rated player in the tournament, a rating that can't really be argued.

So here is my question to you SBI Readers: What do you think of Clint Dempsey's high player rating and performance in the Confederations Cup? Cast your vote:

What do you think of Dempsey's performance so far in the Confederations Cup? Think he can find some more magic against Spain? Still not convinced that he has played well? Not a fan of the Castrol Player Rating system? Think it's actually pretty accurate?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. These rankings are gross. Dempsey is creative and lethal, if erratic, on attack. But he’s a liability on the wing on defense. Check out a report on the Castrol Index Rating System on

  2. When you’re right, it’s “I”.

    When you’re wrong, it’s “we” or “people”.

    I’m not saying no one else agreed with you (I, for one, still think Dempsey has been pretty mediocre since the end of the EPL season). I’ve just noticed this for a long time and I think it’s kind of funny.

    Scenario 1:

    You post a story about a transfer rumor.

    Outcome A, it comes true:

    “As reported by SBI…”

    Outcome B, it proves to be nonsense:

    “The widely-circulated rumors proved untrue…”

    Scenario 2:

    After a bad performance by Frankie Hejduk, “…a performance like this makes you pray for Marvell Wynne to start getting more minutes.”

    After a good performance, “…all the Frankie haters can shut up now.”

    Don’t worry, Ives! WE’RE just busting your chops!

    Much love.

  3. Onyewu has been fantastic this tournament… the fact that he’s rated so low shows that the rankings are way off.

    Also I watched the video describing how the rankings are calculated and I just don’t think that there are too many variables not taken into account for them to be very accurate. Kaka and Torres are rated really high cuz they’ve scored a lot… that’s not rocket science.

  4. *********

    Without commenting on the rankings, I think the criticism of Dempsey has been way over the top, it’s a perfect example of perception becoming reality.

    A perfect example is when he played Bradley through on net early on against Egypt, it was good vision and a perfectly weighted pass giving Bradley an open shot on net. Bradley struck a mediocre effort too close to Egypt’s keeper. Still, Harkes focused on Bradley’s shot (actually praised it) and there was no mention of the set-up. Only on ESPN. There’s just been very little focus on the impetus he provides us in midfield.

    Come watch all the games again, Dempsey is just loafing around most of the time. He loses the ball and instead of fighting to get it back, he gives up and walks back. Hell Landon had to go back several times to cover Demps butt while he walked back. Are we being harsh, I think we are all little but criticism of his play is well deserved. He is not on game at all.

  5. Without commenting on the rankings, I think the criticism of Dempsey has been way over the top, it’s a perfect example of perception becoming reality.

    A perfect example is when he played Bradley through on net early on against Egypt, it was good vision and a perfectly weighted pass giving Bradley an open shot on net. Bradley struck a mediocre effort too close to Egypt’s keeper. Still, Harkes focused on Bradley’s shot (actually praised it) and there was no mention of the set-up. Only on ESPN. There’s just been very little focus on the impetus he provides us in midfield.

  6. Can any of you in any way substantiate the rumors that agents of the Mexican Football Association have infiltrated U.S. based fan web sites and are seeking to sabotage the U.S. Men’s Soccer program? There are claims on the web that saboteurs, suspected of being funded by Galavision, the Michoacan Cartel, and the Tigres del Norte are fearful of suffering an Aztecazo at the hands of the ‘Nats and have a top-secret operation to sow mistrust, disunity, and idiocy amongst gringo supporters by starting a Mexicanization program against the US Soccer Federation and its leaders, Sunil Gulati and Bob Bradley, with the aim of manipulating U.S. media and thereby overthrowing the head coach so as to leave the program leaderless and rudderless in the final, crucial year of qualifying and preparing for South Africa 2010.

  7. Here are some facts to get us away from the Dempsey argument

    Landon Donovan has had 7 completed crosses

    Tim Howard has had 17 saves

    Jay DeMerit has had 6 tackles

    Michael Bradley has the 5 shots on target, the same amount as Fernando Torres.

  8. From the bit: “underlining the European champions’ ability to let the ball do the work.” Yea. Remember when the ball did the work under Andrew Boyens’s foot? The ball does a lot of work against New Zealand, Iraq, and South Africa.

    Oh, just watched the first 20 minutes of the U.S.-Egypt game. Dempsey made some serious mistakes in the middle of the game, but I think the first 20 minutes of the game were 20 of the best minutes I have seen Dempsey play in a U.S. uniform. I am not going any further than that, so hold your rants. I just liked what I saw in those 20 minutes and hope that he keeps it up.

  9. ummmm, where did my other 2 posts go?

    First of all, and all you really got to know, is that Demerit and Onyewu have been spectacular. I’d assume many of their necessary clearances don’t go to a USMNT player, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great play! also they hustle and when they get taken out, they get right back up and make the play.

    Hell no we weren’t too hard on Dempsey. When players play well, they deserve praise. When they play terrible, they deserve criticism. That is how everything in this world works, and if it doesn’t you either have an abused person or a spoiled one, instead of one who is improving himself.
    He played terrible, then had a good game. Robots still can’t judge like us humans. Sorry. And they have missing data, which as anyone who studies statistics knows you can’t have. One of those missing players, probably a sub, was rated the highest over all and they had to take him out so he wouldn’t ruin their “rating system”. Its all bull crap, just another oil advertisement.

    No we were not to hard on dempsey.

  10. One last comment. He sure did turn things around in the Egypt game, and nobody can really take that away from him. He had an amazing game. (HECK), the WHOLE TEAM HAD AN AMAZING GAME. So you got to give the guys credit when they earn it, and earn it THEY DID (Including Dempsey). But you got to hold their feet to the fire when they fail (and miserably they did)! We did that, and from listening to Baby Bradley, I think it worked!!!

  11. I think if we all sat down and watched his game against Brazil again even after looking at the “Castrol” index, we’d all agree our first judgement was correct, and NOT THE MACHINES’!!! Maybe after the goal people have forgotten about his frequent naps on the grass, how often the ball was taken in the middle of the pitch that sometimes resulted in goals, and his lack of hustle. I think everyone would feel anger and blood boiling when they watch him try to be ronaldhino with a back heel through ball in the dying minutes of the game that was unneccessary and awful….mine sure did. No we haven’t been to hard on him. HE deserved it. And the ROBOTS SURE CAN’T PLAY SOCCER, AND THEY CAN’T COMMENT ON IT EITHER. OIL SCHMOIL.

  12. I think the rating is justified; but of course you have to take it with a grain of salt. There is no perfect rating system and there never will be. While it seems to do a terrible job with defenders, it seems to do better with the more attacking players…

    But Dempsey’s stats don’t lie:

    – 2nd in tournament in distance covered = high work rate. Being a man down does not give you extra fitness…

    – highest completed passing % on the US midfield; suprised?

    – 2nd most passes – not surprised… I think he touches the ball more that any other US player in the middle third of the field

    – tackles – third on the US team; although those numbers seem awful low…

    In the Egypt game, before Harkes mentioned that he wanted to know how many giveaways Dempsey had, I think Dempsey was playing great; he really had only a couple giveaways, they just came in a string. He had also played a beautiful long ball to Donovan and a great through ball to Bradley…

    He has been guilty of a couple of giveaways in the final third, but so have other players; the commentators seem to be harping on Dempsey’s mistakes…

    I know he probably does not get back and defend as well as say Donovan, but he does have a high work rate, just more on the attacking side. For sure he is our best at holding and relaying the ball under pressure; without him we would have to resort to even more long ball…

  13. Gooch and Demeritt have been awesome and clutch. That is really all you have to say…but I’ll say more, they rarely make inaccurate passes, though often needed clearances don’t go to a USMNT player. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good clearance or a necessary play to avert immediate danger. This probably hurt their ranking. They have been rock solid back there winning all kinds of loose balls, and one more thing, when they get fouled they immediately get right back up and win the ball back, they NEVER EVER stay on the ground. The ranking presented by the great soccer powerhouse “Castrol” ain’t (CRAP). Robots still aren’t as good of a judge of soccer ability as the couch potatoes that are Ives’ readers. Sorry Castrol, but your products SUCK.

  14. @Johnny Boy

    “Dempsey’s goal beats Egypt and is the reason the US are in”.

    More like: Charlie Davies, Luis Fabiano, Luis Fabiano, Andrea Dossena, Michael Bradley AND THEN Clint Dempsey are the reasons the US are in.

    Wonder if anybody saw that one coming beforehand?

  15. This debate reminds me about the debate about Derek Jeter. The stats say he is regularly one of the worst defensive shortstops in the league, but as anyone who watches the Yankees knows, he rarely misses the balls he gets to, always seems to make big plays in big moments, and has had several career-defining all-time great defensive plays. I think Dempsey’s problem is that he doesn’t look good in the moments when you would expect more from him. In the Egypt game, he had two great long passes that should have been goals and his goal, but in other times where perhaps he could have done more, he seems to take too many dribbles and loses the ball, makes poor passing decisions, doesn’t shoot, or does so weakly. Think of Feilheiber’s Mexico goal — he will eat off that goal forever, but I don’t think CD has had that kind of defining moment yet, much less the series of defining moments that will make us overlook his rather lacadasical appearance (in spite of what the stats say) or the fact that he always looks like he needs to eat something. The bottom line, I think, is that we WANT CD to be a regular goal scorer and a creative force because we see that potential in him. But if CD has hit his ceiling, then he really never was quite as good as we hoped he would be, even if he remains better than just about anyone else we have.

  16. Deuce may not be at the top of his game right now but he is our best overall player when he’s in form. All haters get a major grip on yourself.

    I’d prefer to sit him tomorrow and only bring him on up top late i the game if it’s warranted (i.e. we are down a goal with 25 to go…)

    Otherwise rest him. He will play a key role through the rest of qualifying.

  17. The problem with Dempsey is he’s an affront to the Cult of Landon. Dempsey made the mistake of completely outplaying Donovan at the last World Cup and now he’s gone on to succeed in a top Euro league while Donovan keeps getting bounced back to L.A. According to the Cult of Landon, America’s balding boy is the greatest player ever to don the U.S. jersey and the team’s entire fortunes rest in his hands (so give him the ball dammit).

    For the past three years, every time Dempsey doesn’t connect on a pass, it’s a crime. Forget that he’s consistently one of the most accurate passers on the team. Dempsey spoils their Landocentric view of the world and they want him out of the way.

  18. mexicans have no need to bad mouth US soccer as i saw above….the beaners lost like 4 or 5 nothing to argentina and we tied them….we play spain tomarrow losing to them only one to nothing a while back we will see who sucks tomarro

  19. I looked at the video explaining the rankings and it seems like is number is right but it’s stilted. The ranking seems to take for granted a player who is very active in the play.
    However, if Deuce scores one goal and completes 2 out of 3 passes in the attacking end and does nothing the rest of the game his number is gonna look huge. (unjustifiably huge)
    Which is why someone like Donovan who has CLEARLY had a bigger impact on the team’s play isn’t as high because he has been getting the ball a ton and let’s face it when you are passing the ball 40 times like he is they aren’t all gonna be gems.

    As for Gooch’s number, they seem to really penalize goals against (as much as they reward goals for) so in that regard he is deservedly low. I mean I think he’s played OK but let’s face reality here, he has been the leader of the backline and they’ve let 6 goals through. That is simply not good I don’t care who you are playing. You can argue about the short corner debacle not counting but you have to. It’s his job to get back. Sorry.

  20. ‘Really Andy in Atlanta, how can you say, “Clint has not been spectacular but he is still our best playmaker a majority of the time…”?

    His passes are U-10ish’

    Yea… A player who passes the ball (the most integral part of the game of football) at a U-10 level plays regularly, and with success, for a top 10 side in the toughest league in the world.

  21. “I would be interested in an article covering John Harkes’s performance in the broadcast booth. As an announcer, his hindsight bias is atrocious”

    So true. I found it ironic when he was telling Lals at half time that if it was “their team” in the locker room that guys would have other guys pinned up against the wall at halftime giving them a dressing down. Reeeealll professional Harkes. Lalas just looked at him like – dude I don’t think we were supposed to admit that on TV.

  22. Here is my prediction for Dempsey, he will be riding the pine in the first month for Fulham.

    The last time he was out of form, he was tired. He really needs a rest.

    He is not going to be playing game in and game out next season. Fulham have too many games to play.

    Have we been hard? No, because he would not be getting away with some of his lax play under Hodgsen. He knows that Zoltan Gera is one step away from taking his spot. On the Nats team, we obviously don’t have that competition from depth.

    That is the difference, he knows he has a spot.

  23. If you write a sentence starting with, “I don’t understand why I’m a hater just because…” when no one has specifically pointed you out as a hater, then some part of you already knows what a ridiculous hater you are.

    By the way, JohnC – Deuce’s completion rate is highest among all US midfielders and forwards. So you may want to look up the word “dreadful” in the dictionary. Get a clue – the US doesn’t play a tic-tac-toe style short possession game. You’re not going to hit 80% of passes

  24. Really Andy in Atlanta, how can you say, “Clint has not been spectacular but he is still our best playmaker a majority of the time…”?

    His passes are U-10ish.

  25. Dempsey will be fine and he is still one of the better players on the field. It would probably be better off keeping him on the field and let him do what he can do. He still shows why he is a starter and I don;t see anyone stepping up and taking his spot.

  26. There are only 87 players ranked with eight teams participating, who were the others and/or why were they not ranked?

  27. “I’d say that Rossi had more positive impact on his team than did clint, but again, it goes back to what the castrol index values.

    I think its a flawed system, but I also think Clint probably played better than we think.

    Posted by: patrick | ”



    Rossi’s goals beat the US but he did not score against Egypt and Brazil. Italy out.

    Dempsey’s goal beats Egypt and is the reason the US are in.

    Obviously Dempsey’s play has a more postive ending than Rossi’s. Clint is infuriating because his giveaways resulted in Rossi’s goal. But Rossi’s give away to Kaka resulted in Fabiano’s goal…. Over all you have to give it to Clint.

    I think people forget he is asked to do much more for the USMNT than for Fulham where he has better players around him and where, obviously, there is much more team work.

    I’m not the biggest Bradley fan the but the criticism of him and the team strikes me as mostly ignorant. Managing the USMNT is a very weird, atypical situation and I would not be surprised if most “name” managers steered clear. Bradley’s bigget flaw is that he is not a foreigner and the expectations are just way out of line. After all, they will almost certainly qualify for the World Cup and the will likely win the Gold Cup. These are the only meaningful competitions for the USMNT.

    What I love the most is people who talk about not “deserving” to advance, as if anyone does. Ever look at the Italians WC record? They have made an art form out of looking like crap early on these kind of tournaments, just barely sqeaking in and then turning it on just enough to get into the finals. I’m not suggesting the US is near the Italian talent level, but the US certainly has enough talent to where they can get hot in short tournaments and then……you never know. Greece won Euro 2004, a competion much harder than this one, with talent similar to this USMNT.

    Besides, regardless of what they say Spain is looking past the US to Brazil. If the USMNT can make them pay for that, then the US will have learned the “Italian” lesson: results, not crowd (or blogger) pleasing play is what gets you far in these kind of tournaments. So to get those results every little thing matters. If the US had just held on for a few more seconds in the Italian game, Rossi maybe doesn’t score the third goal. This would have made the Egypt game much easier.

    If they learn this lesson then this tournament is a success. Lets hope they come out and leave it all out on the field against Spain. Of course, if Bradley starts any one of Beasley, Klejstan, Adu or Torres, I’ll be the first to ask for his head.

    as a practice gasme

  28. If you actually look through their “Statistics” section under “defenders” Jonathan Bornstein is the fourth best defender at the tournament based on their statistics.

  29. Wow just because the guy scores a goal he gets praised again…Please Demps is still nothing for the NT…One goal doesn’t change anything IMO…If he can play well the next couple of games then yes we should start to talk, but right now Demps is nothing for the NT…The problem is that his not a winger…I don’t understand why Bob can’t see that

  30. I am partial to Dempsey, I think he’s a great player. The US doesn’t have many players with the ability to execute offensively. A goal and two near assists do make up for a lot, when we don’t have many players who can do that reliably. If someone set him up with a great pass I have more confidence he will execute than anyone, especially Altidore.

    Dempsey sulks about the calls (he’s human) and he’s not always back on defense. But someone explain to me how Dempsey comes out second on the “distance covered” if he’s lollygagging around?

    That said, the castrol index is crap.

  31. I dont Blame Demps at all…He is tired after a long productive season. The guy needs a break.

    If you need someone to blame…Blame Bradley for puttin him in the position to fail in the first place. The little productivity we saw out of Demps is a testament to his skill, but what more can you expect from someone who is exausted.

    Blame Bradley

  32. This whole fatigue excuse seems just that, an excuse. Look at Torres, Villa, Kaka, etc. Didn’t they all just finish a long European season and even play Champions League games? Not sure what to make of Dempsey’s form, but I am saying the fatigue excuse is wearing thin. If indeed he is fatigued, then he needs to work on his conditioning if he hopes to play with/like the big boys.

  33. sure, i think i was too harsh on him. the play off the ball is really hard to rate, let alone watch. I do realize that he provides a lot off the ball that others don’t notice, but I am sure other teams do. I am sure that they watch out for Tha Deuce, and make a point to mark him.

    Go Clint!

  34. Really Man Fan… “the ball hit him in the side of the face”… perhaps you go back and look at his intent…Clint headed that exaclty where he should have and wanted to… it was a great header goal from a guy that typically shows more heart and desire than everyone on the team save Michael Bradley… Clint has not been spectacular but he is still our best playmaker a majority of the time…


Leave a Comment