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What should we make of Dempsey’s Fulham loan?

Clint Dempsey of Fulham


Clint Dempsey’s loan stint with Fulham came to a lackluster end over the weekend, with Chelsea posting a 3-1 victory in what was likely Dempsey’s final match in a Fulham uniform.

As Dempsey prepares to return to the Seattle Sounders, the question that lingers is whether the loan to Fulham was worth it or not.

In my latest column, I laid out the arguments for and against the idea that Dempsey’s loan at Fulham was a success. It clearly wasn’t a success for Fulham, but from Dempsey’s standpoint, an argument can be made that it accomplished the main goal.

Give my column a read and let us know what you think. See the time with Fulham helping Dempsey have a big year? Did his lack of production at Fulham leave you even more concerned about his form in a World Cup year?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Said this 6 months ago and I will say it again, CD is done.

    I hope to “H E double hockey sticks” I am wrong. In my not so humble opinion we (USMNT), really cannot count on him to be anything like the player he was 1 yr ago, let alone 2.

    Again — I hope I am wrong.

    PS – Bradley wear the Capt Band in Brazil.

  2. Do we know if Fulham paid his full salary AND a loan fee on top of it?

    Also, I’m not sure that Dempsey doing well for the US and Seattle means it a success since we don’t know how he would have done with a rest and a trip to the US January camp instead.

  3. Wow. The point of this loan was to get his fitness back up in an intense training environment and get some match minutes.

    He played a good bit if not a ton, including 120 minutes in an FA cup game and caped it off with 90 minutes against a Jose Mourinho coached Chelsea. Was it a great loan? No. But it may well have accomplished what was set out.

    • I think that working back to fitness by playing real games in the EPL is better than pre-season games form MLS. I wasn’t expecting a stellar performance and wasn’t disappointed but taken for what it was, it worked out.

  4. Well, everybody beat the crap out of Donovan for going to Cambodia, then fell in love with him again when he started playing well…

    It will be the same with Deuce, if he plays well the next few months and into Brazil then everyone will fall in love with him again, and his supporters will say this loan spell got him games..which you can’t simulate in training, so it was a good decision.. and his critics will say MLS is weak competition & he’ll never be the same as he was, and left the PL for the bucks.

    Just like Jozy, everyone gave up on him, then fell in love with him, and now hate him again.

    The real story is that we still have so few “stars” that we are constantly focused on, and the collective opinions of them ride like a roller coaster.

    Here’s hoping for a strong spring for all of em….

    And that someday soon we’ll have a lot more “stars” so our success doesn’t hinge on just a few guys

  5. I’ll repeat myself again, this World Cup in Brazil will be history or disaster .

    2018 couldn’t be any closer

  6. why would any club be willing to pay him 8 million a year for 4 years? SO STUPID. That’s the kinda money that could have gotten you Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Heck 15 million a year could get you Ronaldo/Messi who could have really jumpstarted MLS to challenge the Bundesliga.

    3 million a year? sure. No more than 4. I love Dempsey but he ain’t worth 32 million dollars. He knows that.

    should have stayed at SPURS. what does it say that our best players cant hack it in EUROPE anymore?

    • Messi gets 16 million a year now, Ronaldo at 17 million. Neither is giving up Champions league on a huge club like Barcelona or Real Madrid for under 30 million a year. Not until they is 34 anyway.

    • Maybe you could get Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a few years at 34 or 35 for his current 15 million but would have to be like a 4 year deal.

    • It would take a transfer fee greater than the sum total of every transfer fee ever paid by MLS and all the salaries combined to even get Messi.

      It would then take 30-40 million a year to keep him.

  7. is there any DRAMA between Donovan and Dempsey?

    how many times have they played together for the NT since JK joined 2.5 years ago?

    • Well donovan went walkabout for a significant portion of the jk era. And the tendency to skew match day rosters toward either mls or european-based players cut into their opportunities even more.

      For comparison’s sake, altidore and donovan have played fewer minutes together than donovan and dempsey. But nobody would suggest ill will between those two.

    • Duh, this is the third World Cup cycle they have played together. Does anyone have any evidence whatsoever of a dispute or bad feelings of any kind in the prior two? I thought not. Where do you people come up with these ideas?

  8. why do MLS allow these type of loans? you never see Man United loaning an out of form Rooney or Chelsea loaning non-scoring Torres?

    and does this mean that MLS is a feeder league to the PL in that MLS allow players to go. just confused. EXPLAIN please?

    • Sometimes they are sent to the reserve side or benched, but the season in the EPL, for example, is much longer than the MLS season. Dempsey was loaned in the MLS off season so he could keep playing, not for his drop in form. Yes, he had terrible form, but that is not why players are usually loaned out. It is typically to get first team action, or the to keep playing when their club is in the off season.

    • Hard to say what is behind all that. It could be that somone paid someone to loan Dempsey to Fulham. There is no reason to believe that this was done purely out of the goodness of someone’s heart. Maybe these loans lead to extra betting.

    • I’ll base my opinion on how he does in Cyprus. Of course that depends on the midfield, and since not even Landon Donovan or Mix Diskerud nor Bradley are going to be there, I am not too hopeful.

  9. Someone needs to explain why Donovan and Dempsey seem to be going out of their way to avoid being with the UNMNT set up at the same time. The Fulham loan screams of that to me. There is no good explanation for why Dempsey would crawl back to a club he fled from so he could get in some workouts and run arounds rather than join the Nats in their camp and do about the same more locally.

    • This nonsense about Dempsey and Donovan not liking each other and are avoiding each other at camps because of it is getting tired, unfounded and makes no sense so please stop it! I’d love to get some facts, a link or some material that backs up this hogwash! These are 2 of our nations biggest talents to date and any beef between them would be silly! I think it’s all in your head but again, if you have evidence to back up your claims please present them to us, otherwise waste your breath or something of merit!

      • I don’t know whether there is a story there or not, but its certainly a question when time and again arguably the two most important players on the team manage to be apart, even when healthy. As for whether a beef between them would be “silly” or not, that obviously depends. There have been legendary feuds between teammates, including on prior Nats iterations. If there is no there there, let’s see that story.

      • How many minutes have donovan and altidore played together in the jk era? Are those two feuding as well?

      • I want to know if you’ve stopped beating your wife. What ridiculous speculation based on nothing.

    • “Crawl back to a club he fled from” is just narrative speak from fans living vicariously.

      He wanted more money than fulham could give him. He found a team that would pay in champions-league-hopeful tottenham. When spurs started buying a bunch of shiny new toys, seattle came calling with another payday that europe wouldnt match for the rest of his career.

      Then instead of doing nothing during the mls offseason he played some games with (relatively) high quality players.

      So pretty much everything you’d expect a professional footballer to do.

  10. Is he washed up? How does 1 become washed up in a matter of months? He was doing quite well at Spurs toward end of the season and AMAZING for us last summer. Suddenly during pre-season for Spurs he got a few games and made the move to Seattle and went to crap.

    explain this? did the $$$$ or the pressure get to him? someone explain this. Is it mental or physical?

    • I still think where Sigi puts Dempsey is going to be huge for how he does this year. If its at the top of a diamond midfield as we saw him play some last year I think it could be anouther rough go for him.

    • My gut feeling is that he made the move for the money but also because he was injured and after recovery he just isn’t quite the same.

    • The answer is that people who say he is washed up are ignorant of context and history, must know very little about soccer or even professional sports, and don’t know what they are talking about. Maybe he isn’t playing as well, but we haven’t seen enough to reach any valid conclusion, something I keep trying to remind people. Things to keep in mind–he has been with 4 different teams over the last 3 years and 5 different coaches during that period. It is kind of hard to integrate yourself into a team when there is such constant change. Plus, he has had several injuries which have kept him out for a few weeks each time.

  11. “…then the Fulham loan will have to be re-evaluated and considered a success.” Really? How can it be considered a success when his form is still sub-par? “Earning starts” to me doesn’t negate his form once he’s on the pitch. Ives isn’t alone here but most journalists sound like they’re trying to make his loan out to be better then it was. Why can’t we all just accept that CD is in a rut? He’s either lost his form for good, or, if he finds it at the start of the MLS season, for a year and a half. In either case let’s stop making excuses or trying to explain it away. It is what it is. But I will say, although he has probably earned the right to go to Brazil, he certainly has not earned a starting spot on the Nats, though JK I’m sure thinks differently.

  12. He looked good Saturday against Chelsea, I feel better about where his game is now and going into the WC if nothing else.

  13. The London vs Seattle question is a non-issue. The issue is that Dempsey hasnt played well in 14 months and I dont see any signs of him coming out of it. The question is will Dempsey ever be really good again regardless of where he plays??

  14. What I am worried about most is the confusionary factor of the different playing styles in the MLS versus th EPL and the World Cup team. I presume Klinsmann is trying to infuse a German style of soccer into the team. That style of soccer will likely benefit the team in the World Cup. But the English Premier League as well as the MLS have some hugely different theories about how the game should be played. So going back and forth between those systems really will show how well suited the players ultimately will be playing for the USMNT.

  15. It’s clear to me that there was pressure from Klinsmann to go abroad during the MLS offseason. In Clint’s case, I think it was ill advised. I think at his age, and particularly after the last couple of seasons which were a grind, I think he could have benefitted from a rest. He has proven himself at basically the highest level. No need to prove anything at this stage. We need him healthy with fresh legs for Brazil. With two months rest, I think that would have put him in the best position to succeed for the Sounders and carry that form into the World Cup.

    • I have to disagree. There are plenty of people his age pushing themselves for world cup spots for their respected national teams, who play at extremely high levels, and are even older. His resume doesn’t matter, it is more about current form. A short rest might be good, but months off his going to ruin fitness levels, and sharpness. Just ask all the European players who have longer seasons than deuce and are still pushing themselves in cup matches and fighting for position in standings.

  16. Ives, you could have talked more in detail about UMNT implications. Now, Klinsy can’t say that Dempsey didn’t do what was asked of him from a “pushing yourself” perspective. I worry for Deuce though, if he can’t find the goals as a Sounder or in the few remaining friendlies then he might be coming on as a sub in WCup. Before anyone goes nuts, let me make it clear, if the WCup was today he would surely start, but what would a continuation of his current results do to that equation? There is a lot of pressure now at the striker position and out on the flanks. Deuce might be falling into the same trap with USMNT as he did with Tottenham. The only benefit of that pressure, from Klinsy’s perspective, is if it gets Deuce to shine and be in top form. So, what if he is not? Should be interesting.

    • I have to agree with you, and Klinsmann is not afraid to bench anyone, or leave them off the roster. He took an extremely young, and somewhat controversial, German team to the World Cup and ended placing third. He completely changes that team after the terrible Euros they had.

      • Ozil, Muller, Badstuber, Boateng, and Khedira off the top of my head. Most of these guys weren’t even on the radar for their clubs they are at now, in their early 20’s (like literally 20 or 21), and most were not on the previous Euro squad.

      • Klinsmann was not the coach of the 2010 German World Cup team (which included Ozil, Mueller, Badstuber, etc.).

      • Im not so sure JK will do what he should do. He has already anointed people as part of his “spine” even though a good number of them SHOULD be fighting off the competition. As Ives said in his Goal article… it’s been 2 years since we’ve seen anything much from Dempsey. He just may well be done. I for one think he is done and what you see is what it is now. The big question is if parts of his spine aren’t producing… will JK bench them? I somehow dont think he will

    • “…if the WCup was today he would surely start,” How is that? He’s been out of form for over 14 months.

  17. There is no question on whether it was a good idea….it was a dumb idea going into it and nothing changed.


  18. I’m with Ives on this one. “Failure” is too much. “Less than ideal”? Sure. It would have been better for him to stay with Seattle, but I don’t know how you call spending two months of your own preseason in the EPL a failure. Fun game: let’s have your bosses apply the same standard to your work, see how that goes.

  19. I get what you are getting at in the column and it makes some sense but ultimately I can’t call it anything but a failure. He didn’t regain any of his form and missed an entire preseason with the Sounders, which is supposed to be crucial time getting to know your team. If he comes out and plays poorly for them again this year he will really hear it and it will be completely deserved. The only good news is that hopefully he gained some fitness and didn’t get hurt at all.

    • If the loan had ended last week, I would have agreed that he didn’t retain his form. Watching him this weekend though, he looked a whole lot like the old duece. He showed a lot of confidence, created some good chances and was one the best Fulham players on the field. Against the league leaders no less.

      It’s hard to say he’s back in form after only one strong game, but it was certainly encouraging. This must have been confidence booster, and hopefully he can retain it going into the season.

    • If playing and being captain in the WC in 3+ months isn’t a big enough carrot to “kick him in the arse”, I have serious concerns about his professionalism…

      • i don’t think it’s due to a lack of professionalism–i think he’ll put forth maximum effort in any case.

        i do think that while some players thrive on confidence (fernando torres comes to mind), others only get that extra boost when they feel slighted or doubted (cristiano ronaldo).

      • I see your point. I guess I read it definitely. Dempsey has always played with a chip on his shoulder, so I’m not sure how this loan necessarily affected that. That said, if it helps him find that chip and get in the best form possible for Brazil, it works for me!

  20. He should have stayed in Seattle been with the Sounders for the preseason. Would have benefitted him and the team more than this pointless and fruitless Fulham loan.

    • Since he came back healthy and hopefully fitter and never was going to be staying with Seattle all season where gelling in the spring matters, it’s a no harm no foul situation. The reality is he plays 2 months and then is in US camp.

      In terms of the FFC loan, hindsight is 20/20, the team has gone from borderline to an almost certain flush job, gone through 2 coaches. Once they made the coaching changes — and it seems like Seattle was going to insist on a timely return, not allow this to be dragged out — he’s caught in a situation where some coach is looking at saving his neck in just a couple months, and is trying desperately to find the lineup to do it, and having an expiration date is not the best position then. I mean, the coach knows if it happened to work using him, he’d have to take him right back out by March. So he’s more likely to use someone who’ll still be there.

      I will say that if the coach didn’t treat him as indispensable that does raise questions about form and/or fitness. What I just said holds more true if the player is just kind of OK. If someone is playing like a terror I think any coach with half a brain would make an exception. But he wasn’t perceived that way. So he needs to get his stuff together because he has been an important US contributor and to me needs to be reliable in a way Jozy is not.

      • How can you say, “no harm, no foul” ?…he wasted away his whole preseason in a joke situation.

        Playing ( and not sometimes ) in a completely meaningless situation, for a team that isn’t paying you long term was just a dumb idea in this case….and we knew it going into it. I blame the Sounders for allowing it and Clint for doing it.

      • He didn’t pull a hammy or pick up a knock. He ran around and will probably show up in decent shape.

        FFC’s situation evolved for the worse the past 2 months and I don’t think it was obvious they’d drop from 15th or so to 20th and run through 2 coaches back when the loan was made. At the time the loan was made FFC had semi-settled for a period.

        Also, like I said, even if he stayed in Seattle it was going to be a come in go back away situation. He’d be leaving for camp anyway. So even if he bedded in more thoroughly he’d be gone by May.

      • I don’t think you can really blame the Sounders. It was probably a stipulation in Clint’s contract that he be allowed a winter transfer back to England, otherwise he wouldn’t’ve signed with an MLS team.

      • How do you “waste away” a preseason? Preseason exists to get you back into shape to play.

        Whatever dempsey has been doing at fulham, it’s probably been at least as rigorous as what he’d have done in seattle.

      • Considering that the alternative was training with the Sounders and playing a couple of pre-season games, it comes down to which was better–training with an EPL team and playing against Chelsea and training with Seattle. I’m not sure I know the answer and I don’t think anyone here knows enough to know the answer for sure.

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