SEATTLE (AP) - Clint Dempsey waited on the small stage at midfield. Finally he unzipped his sweatshirt and made official a surprising career move.
Dempsey was introduced as the newest designated player for the Sounders on Saturday night prior to Seattle’s match against FC Dallas. It concluded a whirlwind 48 hours of rumors and speculation that Dempsey was leaving Tottenham Hotspur and returning to Major League Soccer.
“This is a historic day for Sounders FC and our fans,” Sounders majority owner Joe Roth said in a release. “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.”
Dempsey was expected to address the reasons behind his move during a press conference scheduled for Monday.
The 30-year-old Dempsey played for the New England Revolution from 2004-06 before joining Fulham in 2007. He moved to Tottenham last summer and scored 12 goals in 43 games, but wasn’t a regular.
The move is surprising as Dempsey is giving up a chance to play in one of the top leagues in the world in the prime of his career and a year before the World Cup in Brazil.
“I was a little bit surprised about it, sure. Because it is an interesting step career wise at a point in time where you would kind of maybe question that,” former U.S. national team goalkeeper and current Sounders TV analyst Kasey Keller said before Saturday’s announcement. “But when you look more at the details and who is involved and what we’re talking about financially it all kind of comes into place.”
There were signs Seattle was on the verge of making a big splash before the international transfer window closed.
The Sounders cleared one of their three designated player slots earlier this week when midfielder Shalrie Joseph restructured his contract to no longer be counted as a designated player. The team website also asked fans to arrive early to Saturday night’s game against FC Dallas for what the club called a “special presentation.”
At 7:26 p.m., a video chronicling Dempsey’s career highlights played on the CenturyLink Field video board and moments later he revealed his new rave green jersey.
“I think we’ll accomplish some great things here, so thank you,” Dempsey told the roaring fans.
Dempsey raved about Seattle when the city hosted the U.S. against Panama in a World Cup qualifier in June.
“It’s great to see the game is building and there are markets like this where people have so much passion for the game,” he said then.