Clint Dempsey’s loan to Fulham has not gone according to plan, which is probably putting it mildly.
Since Dempsey joined the club amidst a relegation battle, Fulham’s situation has gone from bad to worse. The Cottagers have gone winless in six English Premier League games and fallen to the bottom of the league table. To make matters even more dire, they’ve also been ousted from the FA Cup by a League One side.
Dempsey hasn’t done much individually to redeem himself, either. The man who’s scored more EPL goals than any other American has gone scoreless in six appearances across all competitions. Dempsey hasn’t even suited up for Fulham’s last two EPL matches and he hasn’t started a league game since a 2-0 loss to Swansea on Jan. 28. The last appearance of any kind was playing all 120 minutes in that 1-0 FA Cup loss to Sheffield United on Feb. 4.
“Obviously Fulham is in a very difficult situation and the team has been struggling,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters on Wednesday. “Me and Clint have been in communication with each other and talking to each other. He feels he is definitely getting there fitness-wise and he wants to be sharp when he comes back here. But when you’re in a relegation battle, it’s very emotionally taxing.”
Dempsey’s loan is scheduled to last through the end of February. If, as expected, he’s called into the US national team friendly against Ukraine on March 5, he probably won’t rejoin the Sounders until right before the MLS season opener on March 8.
But with Fulham having only one match -- on Feb. 22 -- on the schedule between now and the end the month, Schmid was asked if the possibility of Dempsey ending his loan has been considered.
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"We haven’t really talked about that at this stage," Schmid answered.
Assuming Dempsey does stay with Fulham, the hope is that he’ll at least be able to hit the ground running once the MLS season kicks off.
“Clint is at a different stage than all of us,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said. “He’s going to come in at midseason form almost. He’s got two months under his belt at a Premier League level. Whether or not you’re winning games and scoring goals, it’s about coming in fit and then doing the business here.”