SEATTLE – Seattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey has hung up his soccer boots.
The player known as Deuce announced his retirement from professional soccer Wednesday.
The 35-year-old concludes a 15-year career that saw him play for the New England Revolution, Fulham FC, Tottenham Hotspur and Sounders FC and the U.S. men’s national team.
To list Dempsey’s accomplishments and accolades would probably break the internet, but here is a Reader’s Digest list of them.
The former U.S. captain was named the U.S. Soccer male athlete of the year three times and is tied for the most goals scored by an American in international play. Dempsey helped Seattle to the 2014 Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 2016 MLS Cup and 2017 Western Conference title.
A seven-year veteran of the English Premier League, Dempsey holds the record for most goals by an American in the Premiership and ranked fourth in voting for the 2011-2012 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year after finishing tied for fourth in the Premier League with 17 goals for Fulham.
He is also the only American to score in three consecutive World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014) and is tied for the USMNT all-time record with 57 career international goals. Dempsey finished his MLS career with 79 goals and 45 assists in 209 appearances (including postseason play).
“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” Dempsey said. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
After joining Sounders FC in August 2013, Dempsey started 100 of 115 appearances in regular-season play and scored 47 goals – tied with Fredy Montero for the club record in less matches played – to go along with 28 assists (his 57 goals across all competitions trail only Freddy Montero’s 60).
An important member of Seattle’s 2014 Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign, Dempsey recorded 15 goals and 10 assists, partnering with Obafemi Martins up front to lead Sounders FC to a league-record 20 wins. Dempsey also helped Seattle secure the 2014 Open Cup championship, scoring the game-winning extra-time goal in the 101st minute of the final against Philadelphia. In 2015, he tallied 10 goals and 10 assists, becoming the only MLS player to record double-digit goals and assists in each of those two seasons. He is also the only Sounders player to record multiple hat-tricks, including one in a come-from-behind 4-4 draw at archrival Portland Timbers April 5, 2014.
A consistent performer in derby matches, Dempsey has nine goals in 12 career regular-season appearances against Portland, his most against any MLS opponent. He also retires as Sounders FC’s all-time leader with six goals in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“When Clint arrived in Seattle in 2013, in many ways it was a defining moment for our club,” Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer said. “His signing represented a new era in Major League Soccer, allowing our country’s most accomplished player to return home and drive the game to new heights domestically. Five years later, there’s no doubt in my mind that Clint helped us achieve that, both on the field surrounding our club’s success over the past several seasons, and in our community. In particular, I know many were inspired by Clint’s resolve in returning to the field last season from a major health issue, and that character is something I’ll remember most about him. Clint is a fighter, and he’ll always be a Sounder. We thank him for all he’s done for our sport.”
After helping get Seattle’s 2016 season back on track following a difficult first half of the campaign, Dempsey was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in August of that season, sidelining him for Seattle’s run to MLS Cup and putting his professional future in question. Dempsey returned to action with Sounders FC in the 2017 preseason. He went on to lead the Rave Green with 15 goals to go along with five assists in 33 appearances (29 starts) in his final full pro season (including postseason play), earning 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year honors. After recording 12 tallies in the regular season, Dempsey added three more goals in the playoffs as the club returned to MLS Cup for the second consecutive season.
He recorded one goal and one assist in 14 appearances this season before retiring.
“As far as I’m concerned, Clint Dempsey is the greatest player in the history of our country,” Sounders FC general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “His mark on both our club and the United States men’s national team is indelible, and his hard-earned reputation as a trailblazer for our nation in Europe helped pave the way for generations of future of Americans abroad. His service to our game deserves special recognition, and we know our fans will give him that prior to Saturday’s match at CenturyLink Field.”
Dempsey scored 57 goals for the USMNT, tied with Landon Donovan for the most in U.S. history (in 16 fewer appearances), while his 141 international caps rank third all-time in program history, while his 21 assists are third. He made his international debut Nov. 17, 2004 against Jamaica, scored his first goal May 28, 2005 against England. Dempsey made his first World Cup appearance in the 2006 competition in Germany, where he made two appearances and scored a goal against Ghana in the group stage.
He scored the match-tying goal against England in the USMNT’s opening match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, then tallied two in the 2014 tournament in Brazil, including the fastest goal in American World Cup history, and the fifth-fastest all-time in World Cup history, with a goal 30 seconds into the match against Ghana. In the USMNT’s runner-up finish at the 2009 Confederations Cup, Dempsey led the team with three goals, earning him the tournament’s Bronze Ball. His goals at that competition were memorable, including a strike in a 2-0 semifinal win over Spain and the second goal in a 3-2 loss to Brazil in the final. He led the U.S. to CONCACAF Gold Cup titles in 2005, 2007 and 2017 (as well as a runner-up finish in 2011), and is currently tied for the all-time U.S. lead with 14 goals in FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
“It’s been an honor to coach Clint Dempsey for the past five years,” Sounders FC head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “As a soccer fan, I admired his game and his career for years before he came to Seattle, and to coach a player with his quality is any manager’s wish. I’m very happy that he decided to share his talents with the Sounders community and I wish him luck in the next chapter of his life.”