Clint Dempsey hasn’t exactly been red hot for the Seattle Sounders lately. One of my favorite clichéd sports axioms is “big players play big in big games.” Dempsey is certainly a big player and the Sounders are playing some of the biggest games in franchise history, so where’s the bigness from Captain America?
Dempsey has only two goals and two assists in his last five games (last month of the regular season plus the first playoff game). That’s not horrible, but it’s not Dempsey. He also has 16 shots in this stretch (simple math here: this averages out to a smidge over 3 per game). Is this normal for Deuce? I looked over his game log from this season to find comparable stats.
Dempsey has not started many stretches of at least five straight games. He is currently on a 7 game start streak, and I only found two other such stretches from this season: he started seven straight games beginning with the comeback against Portland way back on April 5th. He also started five straight games beginning when he returned from World Cup duty on July 13th (coincidentally, also against Portland). In the post-Brazil run, Dempsey had 26 shots in those five games, over 5 per game. And taking the first 5 games after the Portland comeback, Deuce had a whopping 28 shots, nearly 6 per game. Obviously only 16 shots in his last five is well below what we have come to expect from our star forward.
Data without context is just garbage (didn’t I just write a post yesterday about the futility of statistics?). The Sounders just played three defense-first matches in the L.A. series and the away playoff game. Dempsey going all “man on fire” was not nearly as important as earning results. There’s a good chance Sigi told him he had other priorities than just firing away (referee Allen Chapman also limited Dempsey in Frisco. Maybe I am wearing my Rave Green-colored glasses, but what oddly complemented Dallas’s flopping tactic was that Chapman seemed determined to call Clint Dempsey for a foul at every opportunity. Kind of hard to get hot when the ref won’t let you step sideways). Of course Deuce could just be tired. Much was made of this earlier in the season. I, for one, was pissed when he travelled to and started at Chivas USA back in early September and then when he came in down three to New York), as he’s been playing for about eleven months straight now. “Man on fire” can quickly become “man real tired.” Lastly this could just be Deuce being Deuce.
Dempsey has always been a streaky scorer. Check out his career numbers from the EPL and even way back to his Revs days. When he’s hot, he’s hot and when he’s not, he’s not. If Deuce has been on a cold streak for a while now, it reasons to say the heat is coming. Which will make Sigi happy. He said before the playoffs that you need your special players to be special. The Sounders definitely need Deuce more involved.
Doesn’t it feel like any minute now Deuce is gonna go on a tear? When he does, it’ll be perfect timing.