It’s not hard to understand the frustration felt by New England Revolution fans after Clint Dempsey signed with the Seattle Sounders. After all, Dempsey spent three seasons with the Revs before being transferred to Fulham FC of the English Premier League in 2007. The charismatic Texan gained a loyal following with his clutch goals, daring runs and flashy celebrations. Although Revolution fans would have liked to see US international back in Foxboro, perspective is needed since Dempsey’s transfer improved the Revs and his return will help the league.
General Manager Mike Burns spoke to media before Saturday’s game against Toronto FC about the blockbuster move and what it means to Dempsey and the league. Burns, who played 15 games with Viborg F.F. of the Danish league, was surprised to see Dempsey return to MLS.
“For me personally, it was a little surprising. It seemed like it happened relatively quickly. Not having been on the inside of the negotiations with the league and Seattle, I think that they did a commendable job of keeping a lid on this until the last possible moment.”
The fact that Dempsey, 30, has decided to come back to MLS after seven successful years in Europe says a lot of positive things about the league. MLS, once nicknamed “the Retirement League” is attracting some of the biggest domestic and international names in soccer.
“This only happens if Clint wants it to happen. I mean, he’s a tremendous player. He has a tremendous resume. He’s going to be great for this league, again. I think it says a lot about him and how he views and values MLS. So, I think he ultimately wanted to come back and got the deal done to come back.”
Burns had high praise for Dempsey and believes that he will make an immediate impact for the Sounders. Although the Revs have history with Dempsey and could’ve used his talent, they had little say in his return.
“When he was sold, he was in the third year of his deal. He made it very clear at the time that he had aspirations and dreams to play in Europe. Both the Revs and the league felt that at the time the offer was substantial enough to move him prior to the end of his contract, which we did, which is why we didn’t have the right of first refusal when he came back to the league this time.”
More than positive memories, Dempsey made a major impact on the Revs organization. The $4 million dollars gained from Dempsey’s transfer was used to build the team’s academy. The program, which has been rated as one of the best in the country, has produced Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell.
“Everyone knows that when a player is sold and a team gets a portion of a transfer fee it’s to be reinvested in the product in a lot of different ways and that kind of enabled us to get our academy program off the ground and running. As you all know, I think it’s paid huge dividends and we expect our program to even get better.”
Burns believes that Dempsey’s arrival is a move in the right direction for the league. Commissioner Don Garber has made it no secret that he wants MLS to be one of the best leagues in the world by 2022. In order to do this, the league must attract some of the biggest names that the soccer world has to offer. While the growth of MLS is obvious, there is still a long way to go before it can be compared to the English Premier League or La Liga.
“Anytime something like this happens I think we get closer to that level but let’s not kid ourselves, we have a ways to go.”