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Player Profile: Rookie Sensation Clint Dempsey
The eighth pick of the 2004 Major League Soccer SuperDraft has earned a starting spot in the New England Revolution’s line-up and is considered by many the early favorite for rookie of the year. Clint Dempsey is currently second on the Revs in scoring with 4 goals and is one of only three players to have played in all 13 of the Revolution’s matches this season. The rookie midfielder/forward is only the third player in team history to earn a starting spot in his first or second game and leads all of the top ten picks from this year’s SuperDraft in minutes played. Dempsey comes into Sunday’s match against Colorado with a three game goal-scoring streak despite playing both forward and defensive midfield in different games during that stretch. With stats like this it’s easy to see why the 21 year old from Nacogdoches, Texas is attracting so much attention from media and fans.

Despite growing up in a town where soccer isn’t the most popular sport, Dempsey had the goal of becoming a professional soccer player at a young age. “I started playing when I was in kindergarten,” Dempsey recalls. “For some reason it’s just a sport that’s always stuck with me. I enjoyed it because you’re able to run around so much and be so active. I had a lot of friends that played it and the more I played it the more I loved it. The older you get the more you realize that it’s a possibility [of becoming a professional]. I worked hard and fortunately I’m where I am today.”

Clint had three impressive seasons at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina before joining MLS. Over his three years at Furman he tallied 17 goals and 19 assists for 53 points in 62 games, mostly as a midfielder, while helping lead his team to a pair of Southern Conference titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the third round in 2002 and a top 10 National ranking. Dempsey also earned some personal awards including being selected to the NSCAA Second Team All-America squad in 2002, being an All-Southern Conference selection all three years and twice being named a NSCAA All-South region choice. The 6’1”, 170 pound rookie was named to the US under-20 squad for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, making one appearance as a second half substitute for Freddy Adu. Dempsey counts this as his best experience so far in soccer. “Playing in the U-20 World Cup is something that a lot of kids don’t get the chance to do,” said Dempsey. “It’s the best players in their age group going and representing their country. So far it’s the most memorable [experience of my career]”

Entering the SuperDraft, Dempsey was hoping to get drafted by Dallas, so he could be close to his family, but is happy now that he’s with the Revs. “I thought every MLS team was good, so I didn’t think it really mattered where you went,” Dempsey said. “I knew [I was] going to have to work hard to get some playing time, but it would’ve been nice (to be drafted by Dallas) because my family is real close and I trained with them the summer before the draft, trying to stay fit and got to know a few of the guys. Most of things happen for a reason and I’m glad I ended up where I am.”

In the second game of the season, Dempsey was thrown into a starting spot in a central defensive midfield role, a position he rarely played in college. “In my freshman year I was a center mid, but I was asked to both get back on defense and get forward on the attack,” explains Dempsey. “[It was] not so much a defensive role as I’m playing right now, but as more games come along I get more comfortable and I think the coach gets more comfortable with me and more confident with me that every now and then he’ll allow me make an attacking run as long as I tell someone in midfield to hold for me.” Revolution defensive midfielder Shalrie Joseph gave Dempsey some advice on how to play the position. “Shalrie specifically told me to play a little quicker,” Dempsey remembered. “He taught me how to just cover the midfield, how to play myself in a better position defensively and I think it’s paid off.”

Dempsey scored his first professional goal against the Metrostars on April 25th in just his second start helping him gain confidence in his abilities to play in MLS. “It lets you know that you’re able to play at this level and make an impact because scoring is an important part of the game,” said Dempsey. “Defense is important also, but getting a goal gives you more confidence, kind of breaks the ice and gives you confidence going into the other games that you’ll be able to score again if called upon to do so.” Dempsey’s next goal came in Dallas on June 12th in front of his family and friends. “It felt good,” Dempsey explained about his goal. “It’s something you always want to do and it just feels good period to score a goal and to do it in front of them is just icing on the cake.” Dempsey scored in the two following matches, earned Man of the Match June 26th in the Revs win over the Metrostars and finished fourth in Player of the Week voting for the week including June 26th, voted on by the Professional Soccer Reporter’s Association. “It’s been pretty cool,” said Dempsey about the week. “I just go out there and take each game at a time. The most important thing is for our team to get a win because we’ve been struggling.”

Clint Dempsey spends much of his spare time fishing. “I like to fish a lot,” said Clint. “It’s just relaxing and it helps get your mind off everything. I go with Steve Ralston every now and then. He has a boat, so that’s pretty fun.”

Clint believes the team has the players to get on a winning streak. “[We need to] get people healthy. I definitely think we have the players to do it. It just a matter of time and the good thing is the players who are playing right now are having to step it up and everybody’s doing a good job. When those players get back hopefully we made it difficult for them to get in the line-up and when they come into the line-up whoever it may be is ready to give 100% and try to win for the team.” With the emergence of Clint Dempsey, thanks in part to all the injuries, the Revs will be that much better when everyone’s healthy.
July 03, 2004 Sean Donahue



Email: sean@mlsfan.net

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Scores
Sat., Apr. 14th
6:00PM ET
Salt Lake 0
Columbus 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
New England 0
Toronto 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
7:30PM ET
DC United 0
Kansas City Wizards 0

Sat., Apr. 14th
8:30PM ET
Houston 0
Chivas USA 0

Sat., Apr. 15th
3:00PM ET
New York 0
Dallas 0

Sun., Apr. 15th
8:00PM ET
Colorado 0
Chicago 0

Standings
East
Team Name Pts
Chicago 3
Columbus 1
New York 1
DC United 0
Kansas City 0
New England 0
Toronto 0

West
Team Name Pts
Dallas 4
Chivas USA 3
Colorado 3
Houston 1
Los Angeles 1
Salt Lake 1

Top Ten Scorers
Top 10 Scorers
Player Name Gls
Ruiz 2
Cooper 2
Cunningham 2
Kljestan 1
Brown 1
Emilio 1
H. Gomez 1
Findley 1
Razov 1
Pause 1