Donovan vs. Dempsey: More people identify with LD

Donovan vs. Dempsey: Off The Field

Photo Credit: 
Getty/Nike

Ahead of Friday afternoon's FA Cup showdown between Landon Donovan's Everton and Clint Dempsey's Fulham, MLSsoccer.com continues to break down which of the two players is the undisputed No. 1 American soccer star. Today, we look at how they compare off the field.

Donovan   Dempsey
640,095 Twitter followers 47,705
615,206 Facebook likes 123,016
Nike, Gatorade, EA Sports, Seiko Endorsements Nike, Modelo, The Soccer Wave
5,890,000 Google search hits (1/24/12) 2,790,000
$299.99 Highest priced eBay jersey $150
landondonovan.com Official Site none
3,762,142 (World's Reaction ...) Most YouTube views 1,490,881 (Don't Tread ...)
Donovan's ex-wife, Bianca Kajlich, is an actress on CBS sitcom WAG Factor Dempsey's wife, Bethany, was featured by SI.com as body paint model

The numbers don't lie: Landon Donovan is a brand.

Clint Dempsey, however, is not quite there just yet.

Back in December, Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel made the argument that Donovan enjoys the popularity and media edge because he has played in MLS for more than a decade. And in becoming a household name in America, Donovan has benefited, according to Friedel, from the promotional backing of companies like Gatorade and Nike.

Meanwhile, Dempsey's most notable exploits have come in another league, where he has plied his trade for the last five years, far away from the American media spotlight. 

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What also plays in Donovan's favor is that he has been a headliner for a longer period of time (in MLS since 2001). Having been anointed as the golden boy of US soccer as a teenager likely also plays into the Google hits and Facebook likes.

And no doubt it helps Donovan to have been a protagonist on the most successful US World Cup run in the modern era (2002) and to have scored one of the most memorable goals in US soccer history (vs. Algeria in 2010).

The Twitter numbers are also slightly skewed. Donovan has built his 640,095 following since October 2009, while Dempsey has gathered 47,705 followers since opening his account in December 2011.

More than just followers, however, Twitter offers a window into their distinct personas and the essence of what makes them resonate differently when it comes to popularity off the field.

Donovan continues to ride the wholesome, clean-cut image of a player who has been trained from an early age to handle the demands of superstardom and who has nothing to prove to anyone. He's honest, thoughtful and soft-spoken, his monotone delivery a reflection of a laid-back personality.

By contrast, Dempsey is brash and in-your-face in the image he projects both on and off the field. He doesn't adhere to any rules and his career trajectory is living proof of it. Unlike Donovan, who has been destined for his current standing, Dempsey knows that his has been the road less traveled. It's why he was the perfect face for the "Don't Tread" rap video and perhaps less so for "Be Superfly."

Dempsey is countercurrent, which may help explain his appeal. He doesn't really celebrate his goals. He scowls instead. Less polished than Donovan from a PR perspective, Dempsey doesn't sugarcoat anything, in the media, on Twitter or on the field.

As two different personalities and two very different public figures, their role on that fateful goal against Algeria in 2010 is a mirror of what they have come to represent. There was Dempsey giving up his body to slide and take the shot which was too hot to handle for the goalkeeper. Donovan, instead, in the right place at the right time, sleek on the follow-up, tidy on the finish, arms outstretched ready once again to embrace the wave of celebrity that was about to overtake him.

Get involved in the discussion on Twitter all week: #LDvCD


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