ARLINGTON, Tex. – Landon Donovan no longer stands alone.
Playing in his native Texas and just three hours away from his hometown of Nacogdoches, Dempsey equaled Donovan’s mark in dramatic fashion, scoring the US’ second goal in the 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal after having come on as a second-half substitute and assisting Jozy Altidore’s 72nd-minute opener.
“It means a lot, especially after having two heart procedures, being able to fight back and be on the pitch and play at this level and be competitive, so it feels great,” said Dempsey in the mixed zone. “To be able to say that I’m tied with another player that has scored the most goals in national team history when I’m a kid from Nacogdoches, and to do it with less games and less penalties, it feels great,” added Dempsey.
The delight for Dempsey was palpable on the faces of the US players and coaching staff, in particular head coach Bruce Arena, who hailed the 34-year-old’s impact on the national team.
“For Clint to tie the record held by Landon, who is such a well-known figure in the history of US Soccer, is tremendous, and I know it is something that was important to Clint,” said Arena in his post-match press conference. “Scoring that goal in a big game I’m sure makes it even more special for him.”
If there is one player who has waged many a battle with Dempsey it is Michael Bradley. The US midfielder and captain has seen Dempsey do it all, and it was fitting that the historic goal came on a night when Dempsey’s presence sparked the USMNT to such an important victory.
“I couldn’t be happier for him, he leaves his heart and soul on the field every time he plays,” said Bradley to MLSsoccer.com. “He’s been a guy that has made the difference on so many days, a guy who I’ve personally played in so many big games with and to see him get a goal like that tonight in Dallas, in Texas, it’s special.”
Altidore felt no different, praising Dempsey’s work in the build-up to his own goal, and even going so far as to evoke one of Arena’s most famous statements about the Texan.
“Today he came in and does what he does… he tries [stuff]. He had a beautiful turn, got away from another guy and played an incredibly weighted ball,” said Altidore. “You can tell everyone’s happy for him, he’s been working so hard. To be a part of that journey means a lot to me and I was really thrilled for him.”