Author’s note: With the news of Clint Dempsey retiring today, I thought it would be interesting to go back to an article I wrote about him, FC Dallas and the national team from Spring 2014. It’s great to go back and see how naive I was to opposing players who played for the national team back then. Part of me wishes I still had that youthful jubilance about the game instead of these jaded glasses I currently wear. Anyway, give it a read and I hope you enjoy it!
I like to think of myself as quite patriotic. I have an American Flag that was flown on a helicopter in Iraq folded in my room, I always sing along to our National Anthem, I have an American flag bumper sticker on my 4Runner and I even started a “USA” chant at wedding while waiting for the bride and groom to walk through the sparklers. With all that being said, anytime time one of the United States men’s national players is facing my beloved hometown team, I’m extremely confused on what to do.
As a member of the most boisterous USMNT supporter group, ‘The American Outlaws,’ I have traveled to a handful of national games. We sing, dance and chant all game long, trying to do whatever we can to help our boys bring home the win. These games have some of the best atmospheres I have ever been apart of and I’m always looking forward to the next game. I want Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan to all score countless goals and run up the score on whomever we are playing. The issue I run into, is when they aren’t putting on the American crest, but instead are wearing their MLS team colors and are playing against FC Dallas.
It’s something that I have honestly struggled with. I tried being passive about the whole ordeal, where I wouldn’t root against them, but instead would just hope they would be a sideshow to the final result. Maybe they do score a goal or have a good game, but as long we won, I wouldn’t mind much. The kicker is of course; the players are on the national team for a reason, because they are extremely talented.
Clint Dempsey came into FC Dallas stadium last weekend, scoring 2 goals and was the reason for the third (an own goal that a defender misplayed because of his cross). He was why we lost the game that night. I found myself in awe of him in the first half, when he scored an incredible free kick, mainly because he only tied the game. It wasn’t until he scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute that I found my emotions changing. I wasn’t happy to watch him play anymore. Instead, I was very irritated that he came into our stadium and had that kind of performance. This guy that I had cheered for so many times before now became a guy I loathed.
Once I got home from the game Saturday night, I had to sift through all these emotions that had been forced on me by an athlete I had loved for so long. I started feeling guilty for not supporting him, for not being happy for his success. Then I remembered him shushing the crowd after his game-winning goal and realized that he was able to separate ‘Seattle Sounders Dempsey’ and ‘USMNT Dempsey.’
I finally came to the realization that all of us will pull together once the World Cup starts. FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo fans will be elated and demoralized together. We will sing together and we will yell at the refs on the TV together. Until then though, all bets are off. The World Cup isn’t here yet. Instead, we are in the middle of the MLS season and I want FC Dallas to be at the top of the table, even at the expense of the USMNT players.
So, Clint, you might have won this game, but next time we see you I will be pulling for you to have a snoozer of a game, allowing us to get the ‘W’. The same goes for you this week, Michael Bradley.
Ps: Please don’t get hurt; our destiny is in your hands!!! USA!! USA!! USA!!