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Dempsey’s return surprised Revs GM Mike Burns

Clint Dempsey


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Revolution General Manager Mike Burns believes Clint Dempsey’s return to Major League Soccer is a big statement by the U.S. Men’s National Team captain.

Dempsey’s return to the league where got his professional debut while still in the prime of his career shows he thinks MLS is more than just a stepping stone.

“Everyone would love to have Clint Dempsey, but there are not a lot of Clint Dempseys out there. I think because it’s Clint, because it’s a returning U.S. National Team player and not just any player – I mean Clint is arguably one of, if not the, top players of the U.S. National Team – I think this just makes a big statement of what he thinks about the league, and wanting to return. It’s not easy to get Clint Dempsey, but for sure everyone would love to have him,” Burns said before the Revolution’s game against Toronto on Sunday.

Dempsey’s return to Major League Soccer surprised Burns, especially because of the way the negotiations were kept under wraps by MLS, the Seattle Sounders, Dempsey’s representatives and Tottenham.

“I think for me personally, it was a little surprising,” said Burns. “It seemed like it happened relatively quickly, not having any involvement on the inside of negotiations with the league in Seattle. I think they did a very commendable job keeping the lid on this until the last possible minute.”

Dempsey proved to be Seattle’s second marquee signing of the season so far — the first being the signing of Obafemi Martins from La Liga side Levante — and Burns admits the Sounders are setting the setting the standard in MLS when it comes to player acquisitions.

“I think [Seattle] just keep raising the bar with two very big, high-profile, highly-compensated designated players,” said Burns. “I think it raises the bar for the rest of the league.”

And with MLS continuing to expand, Burns sees teams trying to make more high-profile signings like that of a Dempsey in the coming years because teams are going to have to find ways to separate themselves from the rest of the league. One way to make a splash and instantly improve a team on the field as well a team’s standing with fans is to go out and get a top-tier player.

“I think we’re going to need to [bring in more high-profile players]. I don’t want to say that lightly, but the Commissioner [Don Garber] said last week that we want to get to 24 teams, and that’s not going to all come from (the) academy. It’s not going to all come from domestic players,” said Burns. “You’re going to have to have international players, and I think you’re going to see more higher-profile players come into the league over the next five to 10 years for sure.”

Dempsey played three seasons in New England before transferring to Fulham in the winter of 2006. At the time, his transfer to Craven Cottage was the costliest in league history. To bring Dempsey back to the MLS, Seattle had to break the transfer record because he grew into the player he is today, a proven goalscorer in the Premier League and captain of the US national team. But Burns sees Dempsey’s experience and success in MLS as major stepping stones for the player, like it has been for other top American players, because it built a foundation for him to work off of when he arrived in the Premier League.

“You can probably give examples of a couple different scenarios: you have players that want to go to Europe right out of the gate, and then you have players that – like Michael Bradley, Timmy Howard, Clint Dempsey – have played in MLS, gotten some experience, and then gone to Europe and have done very, very well, and are now coming back — it remains to be seen of the other guys I just mentioned,” said Burns. “But I think there’s a lot to that – that they’ve gotten experience here in the U.S. playing game after game, season after season, and then being able to apply that in a different league.”

With Seattle’s signing of Dempsey, Burns was asked if New England would be signing any new players and the Revs GM admitted that the team was in the process of trying to sign some new players before Thursday.

“We are looking to add before Thursday, but there’s nothing to announce yet. There’s a good chance that something may happen, but it’s not done,” said Burns, but he would say if the team is trying to bringing in a designated player.


  1. The Dempsey signing bombshell also caused a ripple effect with the owners. The NE Revs are a perfect example. An original 1996 team that still has no set plans for an SSS, and none on the horizon. An original 1996 team whose owners follow the same low-cost formula year after year, mixing cheap foreign players with young draft picks/recruits and other MLS castoffs. Once a player improves, shows value and wants more $$ (Dempsey, Parkhurst), they’re sold to Europe.

    Now the new franchise owners are taking risks and raising the bar, which I think will cause friction with other owners, especially Bob Kraft of the Revs. One senses, if the Sounders are successful, that the other franchises either have to raise the bar or begin to fall behind.

    To the Revs credit, they used some of the money from the Dempsey transfer fee to start their own youth academy – one of the first. It has produced two starters (Fagundez, Caldwell). It’ll be interesting to see what the owners decide to do if the young Fagundez continues to improve.

  2. Mike Burns and the rest of the Revs front office are pathetic. They won’t sign anybody as he said… all talk… and if they did, it would be some bargain basement castoff. We are 800K under the salary cap and they cant find the players other teams sign

  3. ha ha…now we just need comments from Chivas USA stating they are surprised they didn’t get the same attention signing Bocanegra.

  4. I think the Revs need a soccer specific stadium in Boston. Foxboro is to far from the city and a sss in Boston would boost attendance and help the club get better signings.

  5. I am enjoying watching all thee Timber fans on Twitter complain about the league’s cooperation with the fees for Dempsey. The hurt grows strong in Portland. FYI, that Wahl piece on the transfer is pretty awesome.

  6. All MLS teams should learn from Seattle, lag, red bull in terms of spending. I don’t think a small market will win MLS cup again, if teams break MLS parity code, expect big owners to win and succeed. I can picture skc, dc, tfc, dynamo and fc Dallas getting a reality call, when teams like Seattle or red bull star winning. Put it this way, Seattle is following galaxy’s footsteps 🙂

  7. With the precedent Seattle are setting in signing Martins, and Dempsey the Sounders’ FO is really following through on their commitment to sign top quality DPs and change the club’s track record with DP signings.

    Given their recent moves, and Mauro Rosales’ recent decline, I would not be surprised at all if Mauro makes way for a third big DP signing this off-season.

    Let the speculation on who the Sounders’ FO will target begin!

      • Where is EJ going to go that merits DP level salary? He already flopped in Europe. He is not DP material.

      • We can’t be a league where simply being a good attacking player means you have to be a DP. There are only so may DP slots and we need a league full of good players.

        I’m not sure what to top dollar a non-DP is ($250k?), but there should be something in between role player (Brad Evens) and star (Clint Dempsey). Hopefully the next bargaining agreement raises the cap so all teams have have quite a few of those very good, but not star, players.

      • Montero was making $750 or so, and was a very good piece to Seattle’s puzzle. Not really sure what you are saying. Teams don’t have to sign a $8 million guy…

      • FWIW, De Ro was not a DP for DC originally, they made up the difference between the max salary and his real salary by buying it down with allocation money, and thus did not have to attach the DP tag to him last year. This is another option that clubs have to bring in talent, so you could theoretically have 4 players getting paid over the max – 3 DP’s and one player a little over the Max using allocation money.

      • EJ has stated repeatedly he wants to stay in Seattle, hopefully the FO will make that happen. I do not happen to think he is DP quality, but he’s worth a helluva paycheck. I’d like to see him get a fat raise, and keep the four-headed attack monster that will be Deuce, Martins, EJ and Neagle.

      • @drew11

        Come on dude. Can’t say if he’ll be the next DP or not, but your diss of EJ is way harsh.

        He’s been scoring consistently for the USMNT and for the Sounders this year, so he’ll get a raise at some point, especially if he starts lighting it up in the second half of this season.

        Which by the way, is entirely possible in an attacking group that includes Dempsey, Martins, Rosales, Evans and Neagle.

    • No Ozzie is the DP pick there, if they don’t lock him up, they are going to have wasted their money on Oba and Clint.

      • I am hoping there’s a way to use “retention money” to keep EJ and Alonso without making them DPs. I suppose in MLS there’s always the possibility that Roth can negotiate a rule change to keep this team together AND add another top level DP.

        Maybe I’m just dreaming and it will simply be promoting a current Sounder to DP status.

    • Burns has done a decent job building a team with Heaps this year. Big improvement over last year. Their acquisitions the last few years have been solid but not spectacular(Goncalves, Nguyen, Imbongo, Agudelo when healthy), their recent draft picks are contributing (Farrell, Rowe), and the younger players are developing (Fagundez, Caldwell, Shuttleworth). They have their hands tied at the ownership level, so a little unfair to pin it all on the “front office”. That said, the Revs are still a relative mess and have a lot of work to do to be anywhere near what they were 10 years ago…

      • Agree totally with DanO. Essentially they are in year 2 of a total teardown/rebuild, and they’ve done a good job laying a foundation and getting guys who can play (best defense in the league by GS #’s). Compared to last year they are a far better team. The test will now be adding impact guys to the foundation…

      • I don’t know how much Burns has really done with the recent signings. I mean onviously he’s GM but Heaps has said he feels that he finally has “his” team this year rather than Steve Nicole’s. I think Heaps probably had a lot to do with most of the signings you mention.

        That being said I think the real issue lies in the ownership. As a Pats and a Revs fan I have such a love hate relationship with Kraft. I mean he’s a billionare. Can we really not afford at least one decent DP signing. There was a rumor about perhaps selling Agudelo and bringing in Louis Saha. Saha hasn’t scored a goal in a year and is 34. Come on we can do better than that.

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