LOS ANGELES – Tim Howard, like Clint Dempsey, spent time in MLS before heading off to stardom in England, and the US goalkeeper believes Dempsey's return to America's league speaks volumes.
“I think it says a lot,” Howard said Saturday night after Everton dropped a 2-1 International Champions Cup decision to Real Madrid at Dodger Stadium. “They made a big push, looks like it's going to be a lot of money, which is rightfully deserved, because he's a top-, top-class player. The best we have at the moment.”
Dempsey, 30, transferred over the weekend to the Seattle Sounders, where he will occupy a Designated Player slot – and likely occupy opposing defenders, too.
“He's an exceptional player,” LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the Galaxy's 3-1 victory over Juventus in the second game of the doubleheader. “He'll obviously be a very good player in this league, and I think he obviously is going to say he wanted to come back home, and that's the reason he made the move.”
Arena wouldn't discuss reports that LA also tried to bring in Dempsey but were outbid by the Sounders, but he didn't hesitate when asked if he'd want him on his team.
“Sure,” Arena said. “I would have loved to have Clint.”
Dempsey spent three seasons with the New England Revolution before heading to England at the end of 2006. He played 5½ seasons for Fulham, scoring 60 goals – 36 of them in his last two years – and then last season toiled for Tottenham, netting a dozen goals in 43 games, all competitions.
He's the No. 2 goalscorer in US national team history, with 35 in 98 international appearances.
Dempsey's decision to return to MLS surprised Howard, the US' No. 1 goalkeeper.
“I don't think anyone expected it, which is great,” Howard said. “It's good that you can do your business in quiet and get things done.”
He said Dempsey a particularly good fit for MLS.
“To be honest, in secret I've been saying it for years: I'd like to see them pay some money and bring Clint Dempsey back,” Howard said. “They're bringing in some of these other international stars, why not bring the best home? And they did. They weren't listening to me, but they did it, which is great.”
Might Howard be next?
“I don't know,” he said. “I've got three years left on my contract, so heaven only knows.”