But if we’re being honest, we don’t raise Clint Dempsey for his sake. We raise him for what he represents. And what he represents, in many respects, is America’s collective, national ego, an ego that desperately wants to be relevant, reliable, wanted, swagtastic and the envy of others. Which is why so many American eyes will be transfixed on Tottenham’s new no. 2 after the international break, much in the same way we tuned in to Donovan’s Everton exploits. It’s not so much so to keep an eye on Deuce, but to keep tabs on the American flag as a barometer of where we are on that bustling downtown road between the cross streets of anonymity and exceptionalism.
Americans, so used to lead and win in anything still have a hard time swallowing that in soccer on the international stage they will be average for a very long time. Don’t get me wrong. MLS play is very enjoyable to watch since the Sounders have entered the league but on to measure competitiveness on an international stage and to produce players like Pele or Messi, it takes more than to break into the top 3 sports in the country. It has to become THE sport for many years, THE opportunity for athletes to shine, not just one of several choices.