First, let’s get something out of the way; Dempsey is a quality player. He is one of the few worthy of representing our country. He has a good touch, a good brain, and is highly valuable to his club. But World Class?
I know we want one of these badly, but people are reaching and trying to rationalize some way to place that label on one of our guys. It’s utter silliness, and borderline irresponsible.
While I’m not aware of an existing standard definition of world class (perhaps that’s something I should take on), I can say this: when a player has achieved that level, there seems to be a degree of consensus (across the entire globe) that is usually backed up with some of the heftiest price tags. These players are globally known, not just in name but in detail, and are regularly talked about – again GLO-BAL-LY. And there’s a reason why. They are SPECIAL! Clint Dempsey?
The other day this post labeled him as world class upon which I commented:
“Yeah, let’s be careful with the world class label please. To progress in the game, we need to have a solid grasp on where our team, coach, and players truly stand at the international level.”
to which they replied:
“Don’t think this is guilty of that problem, with all due respect. Ad hom attacks from other reader aside– the claim was that Dempsey is a “world class” player. To me, that means one of elite fifty or so players in the world. There’s absolutely no argument he isn’t in that category. Is he in the All-World 11– no ? Should he have been in the All EPL 11 this year- given that Fulham is relegated without him instead of finishing 8th…absolutely. We should have a firm grip– that also means recognizing when we do have something great.”
There’s so many things I could respond to here, but let’s stay on point and use their idea of world class. That is, “one of the elite fifty or so players in the world”.
Not only is there an argument against Dempsey being in that category, it’s easy not to include him.
Here’s a list of 30 EPL players alone. Which one of these guys is worse than Dempsey?
Van der Vart
Nigel De Jong
Tough right? If it’s not, then we have a much bigger problem.
Seriously though, which one of these guys does Dempsey displace?
Ok, now add to that the entire Real Madrid roster.
Whoopsy! What just happened? Is Dempsey out of the top 50 yet?
No? Ok, add the FC Barcelona roster.
Is he out now?
If not, we’ve got some serious delusions on our hands …
But oh well, let’s say we live in la-la land. Should I start looking at the rest of La Liga and players in the top 5 teams in Germany and Italy? How about Holland, Portugal, or France?
Is he better than all the other players in any Champions League squad?
Oh wait a second, I still haven’t looked into the badasses in Brazil and Argentina.
Look, Clint Dempsey had a great season, but to say “there’s absolutely no argument” that he’s among the top 50 in the world is ridiculous. He’s not even in the discussion.
Notice I didn’t bother placing Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez in the list above. Here’s a player who was first considered worthy of the Man United jersey, then goes on to become a scoring machine in his first season at barely 22 years of age – displacing Berbatov, the leagues top goal scorer from the starting 11 in both domestic and European competition. Wow!
All that, and “soccer people” would be hard pressed to place him in the top 50 at this point. Incredible season, incredible story, but let’s see what happens next year.
Think of it another way; if any of these guys on the list (and tons more across the globe) were American, imagine what would be said.
Let’s try an exercise.
Take one of the players you discarded from the list above. If you didn’t get rid of anybody, pick someone anyways.
Ok. You got him?
Now try to understand that player’s value. Consider the team that has contracted his services. Think of his trajectory, accomplishments, international recognition, etc … and if you are remotely capable of judging player quality, more power to you.
After you soak all that in, just try to imagine if that guy were American.
Holy crap, right? We’d be bursting with pride, the likes of which have never been experienced!
That’s how far off Dempsey is. The US does not have a world class player. Not yet …
Donovan and Dempsey, the best to survive our broken system, are good. They are a cut above what’s currently in our National Team pool and what’s in MLS. They are special AMERICAN players, but not special GLOBAL players.
p.s. The cited article also stated Steve Cherundolo is world class. I don’t know guys … do you see the inertia we’re up against here?