DEMPSEY PRIMED FOR COLOMBIA CLASH
With the US national team assembled in Philadelphia for Tuesday night's friendly against Colombia, midfielder and forward Clint Dempsey is hoping to lead the team to its first win of the 2014 cycle.
"You want to play well as a team," Dempsey told YA after Monday's practice. "You want to win the game. That's what you look to get out of it. Also get a chance to look at some of the new guys and what they can bring to the table."
For Dempsey, it will be the second time he has played against the South American country, the first being September 3, 2005 in what was his first international start.
"Growing up Colombia was a team that I liked," he recalled. "Back in the day when they had Freddy Rincon, Faustino Asprilla, Carlos Valderrama and those players. It is a country that has a lot of good soccer history. I think it will be a good game."
The US national team is coming on the heels of Saturday night's 2-2 draw with Poland in Chicago. Dempsey shifted from forward to midfield during the course of the game and was part of several scoring opportunities.
The Nacogdoches, Texas native said there were both positives and negatives to take away from the game but overall was pleased with the effort.
"It was good we were able to create chances and score goals," Dempsey assessed. "I am disappointed that we conceded the lead twice. We are still early in the European season and people are still trying to get their sharpness back. All in all you got to be happy with the result."
Joining Dempsey in the midfield was Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones who switched to represent the US from his native Germany in 2009 and made his long anticipated debut for the US after missing more than a year with an injury.
Dempsey was impressed with the team's new addition.
"I think [the midfield] was good," Dempsey discussed. "Jermaine brings more of a threat for us in the middle as far as getting forward. He's someone [I've seen] in training that gets in and scores goals. He got an assist in the game and he showed you his vision. I think he's a good asset for the team."
Dempsey, 27, has recently begun his fifth season with English Premier League club Fulham who he joined in 2007 after three seasons in MLS with the New England Revolution.
Dempsey is currently in a situation at Fulham where he is adjusting to a new coach in Welshman Mark Hughes following Roy Hodgson's departure to Liverpool.
So far through the first seven games of the season, the former Furman University star feels that he is still in the process of proving himself to his new boss.
"You just have to prove yourself to [coaches] when they come in," Dempsey said of the process of adjusting to a coaching change. "It's not always the case that just because things were one way when the other [coach] was here that it's going to continue. It's frustrating but that's the way it goes."
For Dempsey, the challenge of adjusting to a new boss is nothing new. Since joining Fulham, he has played with four different coaches and while that process is challenging, he does see the benefits.
"That's the way it's been for me the whole time I've been over there," Dempsey said bluntly. "I've been over there, come January, four years. That's four different coaches and that means having to prove myself four different times. At the end of the day you have to look at the positives. It will make you a better player because it does push you."
At the start of the season, Dempsey was not an automatic starter under Hughes even though he has been widely recognized as one of the team's best players for years.
It wasn't until the fourth game that he was firmly reestablished in Fulham's starting eleven.
Now that he is once again considered one of the lead attackers for the Cottagers, Dempsey is optimistic for the club's chances and feels he can have another successful season individually.
"I am American and maybe have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder in the sense of going to Europe and having to try to make it into the starting lineup. But the situation is going [well] now. I have three goals so far this season and two in the Premiership. I am on schedule to do at least what I did last year and hopefully I'll do better."
Through the first seven games Fulham has won only once but has earned an astonishing six draws and has not lost. Their nine points have them currently in tenth place in the EPL standings.
Following the US national team's game against Colombia on Tuesday, Dempsey will return to England and prepare for Fulham's London derby against Tottenham on Saturday at Craven Cottage.