Saturday night will mark Clint Dempsey’s long awaited return to Texas after an hiatus that kept him away, at least as a representative of the MLS, for over six seasons. As a native of the state, and an astounding product of Dallas’ club system, there is no question that Dempsey’s arrival will be one characterized by excited cheers and boisterous applause. But what many people may not remember is that The National Team Captain played, what would come to be his final game with the New England Revolution, in the very same state; and it was a game, the outcome of which, found New England dwelling upon missed opportunities, while the Houston Dynamo were praised by an elated home crowd.
Throughout his final season with The Revolution, Dempsey was in prime condition, scoring eight goals as New England entered the playoffs, poised for attack. Unfortunately for the future Fulham star, the rode to the MLS cup was riddled with injury. A testament to their depth, The Revolution still managed to make the finals, even in the absence of their most prominent player.
It was a cool evening by Texas standards, as the two sides faced off at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. A grueling match left both teams with a goal apiece at the end of overtime. Dempsey had been subbed in during the 62nd minute, but his efforts were not enough to swing the game in New England’s favor. The MLS cup was headed to its first shootout in league history.
Penalties were exchanged in the first two rounds, but Houston was able to pull ahead as the result of a third round miss. However, the moment was short lived after The Dynamo quickly recorded a miss of their own, followed by a New England goal that found the teams equal once again. Houston went on to score in the fifth round, and a phenomenal save by Pat Onstad carried them on to victory, heroes born from the crisp Texas air. Dempsey did not shoot.
Seven years after that fateful November night, Dempsey prepares once again to face a squad that previously casted aside his chance for MLS glory. Only this time, he will not be adorned in the dark blue of revolution, but the exhilarating green representative of the Emerald City. It may not be a Cup Final, but you can guarantee that Dempsey’s return to Texas will be one of legend. When the lights strike shadows on the field of BBVA Compass stadium, do not be surprised if those of Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders appear to stretch just a bit further, like giants amongst men.