Here’s what we learned last weekend, even though we probably already knew it: Clint Dempsey can still score some very, very pretty goals.
His two tallies against Germany in the final tune-up before Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Jamaica (9:30 pm ET; beIN Sport, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com) pushed him into second place all-time on the US scoring list. With 35 career goals for his country, Dempsey is now trailing only Landon Donovan (49), and it's not inconceivable that the 30-year-old Dempsey could get to 50.
It's been a pretty rapid climb to No. 2 for Dempsey, who reached his current mark in 96 appearances. The man he passed, Eric Wynalda, got to 34 goals in 107 appearances. Wynalda will tell you — as he told me this earlier this week — that he "played more games in the midfield than up front" for the national team, but anyone who saw Wynalda play anywhere on the field knows Dempsey has joined rare company.
In honor of his recent ascension, I'm going to play the "off the top of my head" game and recount five of what I consider to be the most memorable goals of Dempsey's national team career.
1. The goal vs. Ghana in the 2006 World Cup. It went down as the only goal a US player put into the net in Germany, a right-footed blast off a perfect early cross from DaMarcus Beasley. Its significance was erased when a dubious penalty was awarded to Ghana in first-half stoppage-time, but fans haven’t forgotten that strike. It marked Dempsey's arrival as an international.
2. The goal that put the US ahead 2-0 against Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal. Did anyone think the US could make one goal stand up against the best team in the world? When Dempsey capitalized on a rare defensive miscue, only then did Americans start to believe.
3. The last goal Dempsey scored in a competitive match for the US. I'm talking about the goal in the blizzard against Costa Rica, in March. Play 100 times in those conditions, it might end up 0-0 99 times.
4. The goal he scored vs. Panama in the semifinals of the 2011 Gold Cup. In a tournament where the ball did not want to seem to want to go in the net for Dempsey, his perseverance and a perfectly timed run to the back-post to meet Landon Donovan's pass got the US a victory.
5. The goal Dempsey scored in a 1-0 victory for the US in Cuba in 2008. Much like the snow in Colorado, the combination of a monsoon-type storm and ankle-deep grass made this game look like a sure 0-0, until Dempsey pounced on a ball that Brian Ching dug free in the box.