This week has been lousy with talk of Clint “Deuce” Dempsey. Whether serving as the poster-boy for Major League Soccer’s lopsided salaries (he was on the crawl, people, I swear!) or as talisman for the Seattle Sounder’s (fucking!) triumph over FC Dallas, Dempsey featured on Yahoo!’s crawl not once, but twice.
Then we had the week before when his hat-trick against my struggling Portland Timbers made him the talk of the league. I resisted the talk, whether out of partisan spite or a habit of taking my hype in small spoonfuls. Still, Dempsey’s performance against Dallas this weekend has forced me to confront some demons. And to cough up a couple bucks. Sumbitch.
He’s not the fastest guy on the pitch – pretty sure I saw Chris Hedges win a foot race against him – but Dempsey’s fulfilling the playmaker role that (some) rumor(s) assigned to him in the preseason. And, lord, is he filling it well.
As for this game, or at least the Seattle-based broadcast of it, this would have been one helluva an entertaining match if only we could get Kasey Keller to shut up about the goddamn wind. It does not affect everything, man! (Also, and this is not intended as libel, but does anyone have insight into broadcast booth tippling? Keller sounded a bit loopy at spots in the broadcast….but I digress). It was the spin on that first goal, Kasey, and you know it.
For reasons hinted at in an earlier post (yet not linked to here; you won’t catch me with my trousers), I watched the Seattle v. Dallas at an extreme hour. Now, normally, I refer to my notes for this kind of thing, but there’s an issue: specifically, the fact that I didn’t seem to pay much attention to FC Dallas last night (or this morning; pick yer poison; god knows I did). Things like Fabian Castillo’s consistent ability to find gaps behind the opposition’s right back and the central defender, or the quality of Michel’s service made my list. I also wrote the name “Diaz,” which seems pretty cryptic right now…the absence of follow-up makes me think that Mauro Diaz’s participation in this game tailed off a little. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Another line in my notes really sticks out for me: “Dallas’s 2nd 1/2 defending; evaporated in the 2nd.” Now, that holds pretty well, I think. Seattle definitely lit it up in the 2nd, finding elusive “joy” all over the place (and let the record show that I hate that phrase). I’m guessing that Dallas fell off, stopped winning second balls, etc. And Dempsey tended to be at the center of a lot of those moves. Notably, on the three goals Seattle scored on the night. Some further thoughts about that…
Seattle’s attack looks fairly haphazard at this point. That’s to say, I don’t know how they do what they do. It seems to work and I see parts of the machinery when I watch – e.g. Obafemi Martins is a pretty tidy playmaker and, god bless someone (Sigi?) for just appeasing Kenny Cooper and letting him play out wide, because the man seems unconsciously drawn to that area – but I can’t say I fully understand how this team gets from Point A to the goal. But they did it. Three times last night. With Dempsey involved every time. Hell, he played a role a couple times more. Again, sumbitch.
If there’s a rainbow in all this for partisans it comes with the fact that Dempsey and Martins seem to be silently squabbling over who gets top billing. Keep sniping, gents. Keep sniping.
There are other parts of Seattle’s overall structure that I like. This might be a lonely position, but I think Osvaldo Alonso is fading a little. It falls somewhere between foot-speed and being asked to do everything, but Ozzie doesn’t command the center like he used to. Given that, I think the Sounders struck silver – that’s at a minimum – when they signed Gonzalo Pineda. He’s got a good foot and he plays the ball forward pretty well. In so many words, by providng that forward impetus, he compliments Alonso pretty well. So, call that good for Seattle. Maybe very good.
Now, going the other way, as in bad: DeAndre Yedlin had a stinker. He’s been shaky all season for me; take away the recovery speed and he’s sophomore slumping like a, um, boss. (Yeah, that sounds wrong.) Castillo flat-out owned Yedlin for most of the night; generally, it was dear Fabian’s poor decision-making that saved Seattle often as not, as opposed to Yedlin’s defending. But it’s the relentless goddamn star fits that really stand out – the pouting, the tantrums, the FRIGGIN’ STUPID PKs. That’s excusable when you’re holding it down, not when you’re getting beat all over. Maybe the national team call up went to the lad’s head. Whatever’s going on, someone needs to remind Yedlin that he’s only good as his last game. And his last three (maybe; could be mashing up this and that) haven’t been good.
Seattle, on the other hand, has compelled me to respect them – and that’s something I didn’t do last week. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand how they do it. They’re doing it. And, though it pains me to say it, Clint “Fucking” “Deuce” Dempsey has been the man who brings order to what I see as chaos…
….that said, there was nothing chaotic about Dempsey’s last goal, the winner. The man orchestrated pure and simple. I’ll shut up. At least until he gives me cause to speak up again.
And, no, I still don’t rate Dallas that highly above their record. I mean, Steven Keel…