Seattle Sounders FC has signed U.S. National Team captain Clint Dempsey, the club announced today. Dempsey will occupy Seattle’s third Designated Player spot. As a Designated Player, he does not return to MLS via the allocation ranking order.
Dempsey, 30, is the captain of the U.S. National Team and has been named the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year three times, including the past two years. A seven-year veteran of the English Premier League, Dempsey holds the record for most goals (57) by an American in the EPL.
“This is a historic day for Sounders FC and our fans,” said Majority Owner Joe Roth. “Clint is a world-class soccer player who can take this club to a higher level. We have been consistent in our message to the fans that we will spare no expense to win trophies.”
A threat for both club and country, Dempsey ranks second all-time with 35 goals for the U.S. National Team. He ranks ninth with 12 assists and 13th with 99 caps, and became the second player in U.S. Soccer history to score in consecutive World Cups with the equalizer against England on June 12, 2010. He has scored five goals in eight starts for the U.S. in 2013, and has led the team in goals the past two years.
“In doing something of this magnitude we had to make sure we had the right player. Clint Dempsey fits that mold,” said Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer. “Clint is a proven winner, a leader and a competitor who we believe will raise the bar for this organization on and off the field.”
The midfielder has spent the past seven seasons in the EPL playing for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, making 213 appearances from 2007-13. In his only season with Tottenham in 2012-13, Dempsey scored seven goals with six assists in 29 appearances, including the winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford on September 29, 2012.
“Led by the most dedicated fan base in MLS, the Sounders FC brand has grown each year,” said President Peter McLoughlin. “Bringing a player of Clint’s caliber into our organization exposes and enhances our profile around the globe.”
Dempsey first moved to the EPL in 2007, joining Fulham after three seasons in MLS. In six seasons with Fulham, he scored 52 goals and recorded 18 assists in 184 appearances, including a career-high 17 goals in the 2011-12 season. In his first full season with Fulham, he led the club with six league goals and played in 36 of the team’s 38 matches. Over the next two seasons, Dempsey scored a total of 16 goals across all competitions. On April 22, 2010, he became the first American since DeMarcus Beasley in 2005 to play in the semifinals of a European competition.
“I am very excited about coming back to the MLS and thrilled to be joining Sounders FC,” said Dempsey. “Having recently played in Seattle with the National Team, I experienced the incredible atmosphere and the passion from the supporters first-hand. It’s going to be an honor to represent the fans in Seattle.”
In his final two seasons with Fulham, Dempsey tallied 29 league goals in 74 appearances, leading the team in scoring in 2010-11 with 12 goals. Dempsey recorded eight braces and one hat trick in his EPL career, and was twice voted the Player of the Year for Fulham by the fans.
The 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year and two-time Best XI player, Dempsey returns to MLS after beginning his professional career with the New England Revolution in 2004. In three seasons with New England, Dempsey scored 25 goals and recorded 14 assists in 71 appearances.
A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Dempsey attended Furman University in South Carolina.