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Tottenham Hotspur announce transfer of USMNT captain Clint Dempsey to MLS

Clint Dempsey is indeed returning to Major League Soccer.

Following two days of Twitter buzz and speculation, Tottenham Hotspur announced on Saturday that the US national team captain has finalized a move back to the league where he played for three seasons, from 2004 to 2006.

"We wish Clint every success for the future," the statement on the club's website reads.

Spurs' announcement does not specify which club he is joining, but according to various reports on Friday, he appears destined for Seattle.

ESPNFC soccer scribe Doug McIntyre then was first to cite sources inside the Sounders claiming that "an agreement with Seattle is indeed in place." Multiple reports, including by NBC Pro Soccer Talk and SI.com, have since corroborated and expanded on the ESPNFC report.

Meanwhile, the Sounders have not confirmed that Dempsey will be joining the club.

News of a Dempsey sighting at a US airport on Thursday set off a #DempseyWatch on Twitter with reports from England also claiming that a move to Everton was in the works. The Toffees are currently participating in an international preseason tournament in the US.

The buzz prompted Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid to address it on local radio, during which he admitted that he spoke with Dempsey in Seattle when the US national team played in June.

Dempsey himself spoke about Seattle during that trip.

"I'm good friends with [Sounders forward] Eddie Johnson, and he always tells me what it's like playing here, playing in front of the fans, just how it's an atmosphere that's comparable to what it is in Europe," Dempsey told reporters after the USMNT's 2-0 win over Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on June 11. "It's great to see that the game is building and that there are markets like this where people have passion for the game. I almost felt like I was in another country the other day when the Seattle Sounders game was on."

Dempsey, 30, left for Europe for a then-MLS-record transfer fee to English Premier League side Fulham in 2006. He spent five seasons making his name on the international soccer scene with the Cottagers, helping spark the club’s first-ever appearance in the Europa League final in May 2010 and becoming one of the most reliable goalscorers in the Premier League.

By December 2011, he was the most prolific American goalscorer in the Premier League – passing former Cottagers teammate Brian McBride – and he set Fulham’s single-season goalscoring record five months later en route to finishing fourth in the voting for the FWA’s Footballer of the Year, honoring the best players in the Premier League.

With his intentions set on appearing in the UEFA Champions League, he leveraged his success at Fulham into a transfer and a contract with Tottenham in August 2012 that made him the highest-paid American player of all-time. He scored seven goals in 22 league appearances for Tottenham last season, but the club finished one-point short of the EPL’s fourth spot, and failed to qualify for Champions League.

A regular with the US national team since 2004, Dempsey is currently one game shy of his historic 100th cap, and he’ll likely earn that when the US return to CONCACAF World Cup qualifying play on Sept. 14 in Costa Rica. Dempsey has five goals and an assist in eight games with the USMNT this year, including two in a 4-3 win over Germany in June that kick-started the team’s current 11-match winning streak. His 35 international strikes rank second on the Americans' all-time scoring chart.

Dempsey is the third US national team member to return MLS during the current transfer window, joining longtime US captain Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA) and Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes).


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