Though we know you haven't missed it — how could you? — the Seattle Sounders announced the signing of current US national team captain Clint Dempsey on Saturday. The unveling of the league's newest, and most high profile American Designated Player, prior to kickoff of the Sounders' 3-0 thrashing of FC Dallas put to be a whirlwind of a 24-hour period of rumors, reports and airport sightings.
The Sounders' efforts to bring Dempsey to the Emerald City, though — as is often the case with any marquee signing — began a fair time ago in mid-July and the entire move was initiated by Dempsey and his agent, according to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl in one of the inside reporting jobs of the year.
Some of the details in Wahl's story surrounding Sounders majority owner Joe Roth's pursuit of Dempsey are actually quite staggering, and offer that brief glimpse into the player transfer side of the soccer world that we are so often not privy to.
For instance, there is a reason no one saw Dempsey exit his flight at the Sea-Tac airport in Seattle:
"Some fans even went to Sea-Tac airport to try and locate Dempsey, but the Sounders had a plan. When United Airlines flight 1621 arrived at 11:13 pm PT, the passengers all came through Terminal A, Gate 9 except for one. Dempsey was being re-routed through a different door.
'We have really good contacts at the airport, so we were able to sneak him off the flight and down onto the tarmac into a van,' says Hanauer with a laugh. 'Then he went back around to a baggage claim area that wasn't for his flight. He jumped in my car. His associate James [Skelland] went and got the bags. We picked him up and then away we went.'"
So, wait, how did Dempsey settle on Seattle as his destination? Surely the LA Galaxy and a major market east coast team were in the mix, right? Right, but only sort of.
"He was up for coming back to MLS, but the only teams he was interested in playing for were Seattle, Los Angeles and Toronto.
Los Angeles and Toronto were also interested in ponying up for Dempsey, multiple sources said, but Toronto (which is working on its own Designated Player deals) accepted that it was better for the league if Dempsey were playing in a US city."
As for speculation that Dempsey will request MLS offseason loans to a European club in order to keep his play and profile at its highest point, count on it. And, soon.
- "What's more, there is a stipulation in the contract that Dempsey is allowed to go on one off-season loan to a European club during the length of the deal. (Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane have gone on similar loans.) It's expected that Dempsey will do that in January and February 2014 to help prepare for the World Cup."
That's all we'll pull from Wahl's story for the time being, so if you want the entire inside scoop, again, go check out how Dempsey-to-Seattle came to pass, all the way from day one to Saturday at CenturyLink Field.