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International Soccer
Dempsey proving his worth at Fulham again

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Clint Dempsey may be the best current U.S. player, but he's never had to stop proving himself in the English Premiership. Through four years, and four different coaches, Dempsey has had to erase the American stigma each time.

It's been a frustrating process, Dempsey admitted earlier this week after training with the U.S. at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Just because he establishes himself under one manager means little when the revolving door turns.

Dempsey, a veteran of more than 100 Premier League matches, has approached the situation with a positive attitude because he knows at the end of the day, the adversity has only made him a better player.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Tuesday Dempsey has "special qualities," something new Fulham boss Mark Hughes obviously notices as well. The 27-year-old Dempsey is equally comfortable playing in midfield or up top behind another attacker.

Clint Dempsey is a veteran of over 100 Premier League matches.
He possesses the ability to create chances for himself or teammates, even when it's completely unexpected. Bradley admitted that's what Dempsey shows for the U.S. and "he's shown that at Fulham as well."

Hughes brought Dempsey off the bench in Fulham's season opener, but the United States star has started five of the last six Premier League games. Dempsey has two league goals to tie for the team lead, helping Fulham remain unbeaten.

Although Fulham has just one win and six draws, when the only other club still unbeaten in the Premier League after seven weeks is Manchester United, Dempsey and his teammates are in good company.

"You've got to take the positive as far as points are concerned," Dempsey told The Sports Network on Monday. "We were able to get points out of every game. Obviously you want to get some more wins so you can move further up the table, but the fact is we're still undefeated."

All the more impressive, Fulham has earned three of its results - two ties and a win - with goals in the 87th minute or later. Those games include a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.

"That shows that our team has a lot of character," Dempsey said.

Since that three-game stretch of incredible endings in the first four weeks of the season, Dempsey has carried the London club over the last three games with the team's only goals in that span.

Dempsey had the tying goal in the second half of a 1-1 draw against Blackburn and, after Fulham tied Everton 0-0, he had the lone goal in a 1-1 tie at West Ham. Dempsey also has a goal in the Carling Cup.

Despite his continued strong play, Dempsey knows the struggle for playing time at a Premier League club will never end. Fulham is off to its undefeated start with attackers Moussa Dembele, Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson missing time.

When that trio returns, it provides direct competition to Dempsey for minutes. But Dempsey, who still has a black eye from an elbow by West Ham's Manuel da Costa nearly two weeks ago, has never backed down from a challenge.

"Even though we've had injuries, we've been able to sustain and get points. So hopefully those players get fit and well and are able to come back and push players for spots," Dempsey said. "With more competition, we'll do better."

Fulham remains a long way from standing alongside England's elite clubs. Heck, Fulham isn't the top club in Fulham, as Chelsea's Stamford Bridge also sits in the borough.

But when Dempsey takes the field Saturday at Craven Cottage against Tottenham, the club he made his Premier League debut against almost four years ago, there should be no doubt he belongs in the Premiership. He's proving that - again.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Brian Westfall at bwestfall@sportsnetwork.com.

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