By Allen Ramsey
It was a week of firsts for Clint Dempsey. Last Sunday, Fulham grabbed their first league win for new manager Martin Jol, and less than a week later the midfielder helped lead the US national team to their first win under new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Dempsey was instrumental in both victories, scoring a combined two goals to go along with an assist in the two matches, and setting up numerous other chances along the way.
For Fulham, it was a vital three points and a monkey off the club’s back. For the USA, it was just for the joy of getting a first win for a coach with a lot of eyes glued on him.
Either way, having a player like Dempsey around makes a big difference.
“I think he puts fear in defenders because he constantly goes at people, he constantly wants to face you up and go at you,” Tim Howard said.
“From a goalkeeping standpoint that’s very difficult obviously. With the goal, the window closed really quick, he created another window and he finished it. He’s got two really good feet, a strong upper body, and a really good shot. He’s got everything you want.”
For Dempsey, the shift from Bob Bradley to Klinsmann was nothing new. The German is his third national team manager and he’s been through six different club managers since his rookie year with the New England Revolution in 2004.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com about what it takes to stay consistent following a change of coach, Dempsey said: “I think it’s important to keep always fighting for a position, always working hard in training to earn your place on the team and you have to show the manager that you’ll fight for him and be willing to take on board what they have to say.
“You have new plans with each manager that comes in and you have to make sure you’re able to execute that gameplan in order to keep your place on the field.”
One thing that has always helped the American keep his place on the field at Craven Cottage is his ability to pop up with goals in big moments, and having scored the first match-winner in Klinsmann’s career with the USA, the midfielder was pleased to have shown his newest manager that he’ll produce on the international stage as well.
“Yeah for sure,” Dempsey said when asked if it was special to score the winner in Klinsmann’s first victory.
“It’s important for us to pick up the first win for the new manager and it’s always good to show the manager that you can score goals under him. Moving forward it’s about making sure that we find out who our best 11 is before qualifying so we can get the job done and be in the 2014 World Cup.”
Having played in multiple positions during his professional career, Dempsey seemed to have finally settled into the role of a left midfielder for both club and country in recent years.
But in Klinsmann’s system, the 28-year-old is back to playing behind the lead striker, getting forward and helping to drive play. For Dempsey, it’s a chance to be involved more in the match, and something he seems to be relishing.
“Being in the middle of the field you feel like you’re going to be able to get on the ball a little bit more and be able to have an impact on the game, so that part is good,” he said.
“And anytime I can be in the attack, whether it be creating chances or scoring goals, that’s what I love most about the game.”
For Dempsey, making an impact in the game is the major focus. He’s a player that wants the ball, wants to score, wants to set up team-mates and most importantly, wants to win games.
“You always want to make an impact and make the most of the seasons that you have,” he added.
“And the more games you can play at a high level the better it is for you in the long run as far as when you look back at your career you can know that you took advantage of your opportunities and made the most of things and not have any regrets.”