It was a bit of a surprise, after hearing Roy Hodgson tell Sky that Clint Dempsey had picked up a knock in the FA Cup at the weekend, to see the American have such an impact on the second half of the Stoke game as a substitute. Dempsey’s form hasn’t been up to his usual high standard these past couple of weeks – and given the non-stop nature of his year that’s forgiveable – but he does have the capability to produce something out of nothing.
And that’s precisely what he did last night. Having a missed a much more presentable chance after Damien Duff’s deflected shot gave us an outside chance of grabbing an unlikely point, Dempsey struck a truly stunning second goal with time running out.
Some people might try and decry it as a fluke but remember he scored from similar range against Amkar Perm in the Europa League earlier this season.
It set the US blogs alight too. Ives Galarcep called it ‘ridiculous’ and a wonder goal. Cue plenty of discussion about where Bob Bradley might deploy Deuce against England in June. The New York Times seems to think it’s raised Dempsey’s reputation but that seems a little off to me. Anyone who’s been paying any attention would know of Clint’s quality.
Perhaps the most pertinent point from a Fulham point of view is how Hodgson decides to use Dempsey on Saturday. He’ll be willing to play anywhere – you could see the study of concentration that was his face as he prepared to come on for Bobby Zamora. With Zamora, Fulham’s man front man this season injured, Andy Johnson feeling his way back from a lay-off and Diomansy Kamara still a couple of weeks away, Hodgson’s suddenly short of striking options. Dempsey’s done a good job as an emergency striker before: he might just be pushed into service again against Portsmouth.