Swiftly, humbly and unceremoniously, Clint Dempsey rode into the sunset this week, leaving the soccer world to mourn his retirement and celebrate his legendary career.
His 15 years of saucy success in MLS, the English Premier League and with the U.S. men's national team gave us countless epic moments. But which ones will live longest in the memory?
What is your favorite memory of Clint Dempsey?
BOEHM: So many Deuce memories – too many to have any chance of evaluating them all fairly, to be honest. Sounders fans will savor the hat trick he scored against the old enemy Portland to lead a stunning comeback at Providence Park in 2014. Then there was his hat trick for Fulham – the first and only by an American in the EPL – in 2012. Or perhaps the game-winning goal for Fulham over Liverpool in Dempsey's first season at Craven Cottage, which played a huge role in saving them from relegation?
But no, I'm going with one of the most clutch goals he ever scored for the USMNT, and on one of the most memorable occasions in the program's history: The sole strike in the SnowClasico, the key World Cup qualifier played in a Colorado blizzard in 2013. Having just been humbled in the Hexagonal opener in Honduras, then buffeted by controversy as a Sporting News article exposed Jurgen Klinsmann's questionable management and concerns among the players, the US absolutely had to beat Costa Rica. And Deuce made sure they did.
BOGERT: More than any goal, when I think of Clint Dempsey my mind immediately springs to the instant-classic Deuce Face. It encapsulates everything he was as a player. He was brash and never scared; he didn’t care who you were and was going to fight for everything. The Dempsey Face is perfect and should be immortalized on a statue or in a museum somewhere..
COUCH: It’s Deuce-adjacent, but Bruce Arena saying “He just tries [stuff].” What a perfect crystallization. Four words that wrapped everything that elevated Dempsey through the ranks and in the key moments for club and country. Laconic. Edgy. Unexpected. Unforgettable.
DOYLE: 31 seconds:
The way he receives that pass, then the slalom around Boye and the ping-it-off-the-back-post finish... that's arguably the Dempsey-ist goal he ever scored for the national team, and he did it 31 seconds into the opening game of the World Cup against a foe who'd been killing us for more than a decade. Deuces, Ghana.
RODRIGUEZ: My favorite memory is probably Dempsey's free-kick goal to tie the all-time USMNT scoring record:
It's a shame we didn't make more of this, in hindsight, assuming Dempsey was going to take the record for himself in short order. But Dempsey was a fun player, and scoring the big goal, in a Gold Cup semifinal, was a great memory that will doubtless go under the radar.
ROSANO: OK, really, it’s probably #DeuceFace, 2014 World Cup vs. Ghana, or that chip vs. Juventus. But for the sake of variety, I’ll point to the Snow Game. I don’t get how anyone was able to see the goal in those conditions, let alone put a ball on target, but it’s little surprise Deuce was the one to manage it.
WARSHAW: When he tore up the referee's notebook.