61514_isi_dempseyclint_usmnt061514110 John Todd/isiphotos.com
United States vs. Ghana

Clint Dempsey Sees 2014 Cup as Something Special

The United States captain, 31, rarely shows much emotion outside of a soccer field, but at Sunday's press conference he revealed that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil means a tremendous amount to him.
BY John Godfrey Posted
June 15, 2014
3:44 PM
NATAL, Brazil—United States national team captain Clint Dempsey has scored in two World Cups, played in a Europa League final, starred in the English Premier League, and become the biggest story in Major League Soccer.

There's no doubt about it, the 31-year-old Nacogdoches, Texas, native has been there and done that. And when he fields questions at press conferences you can often see the media-weariness on his face—a feeling that he can barely tolerate any more questions.

But Dempsey wasn't like that today inside Arena das Dunas in Natal. The No. 3 player in the ASN 100 wasn't outwardly emotional or demonstrative, but you could tell that he viewed the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as something truly special.

"It's great to see the passion of the fans in this country," Dempsey said, responding to a question about whether he was jealous of the huge audience for soccer in Brazil.

"I remember growing up as a little kid," Dempsey elaborated. "I grew up in a small town in Texas. The game that I played wasn't valued by a lot of people, but I watched a lot of South American soccer and I gravitated toward the way that they played—just being creative."

The flair, the joga bonito, has always been a hallmark of Dempsey's game, and he certainly put on a Brazil-worthy maneuver in the Send-Off Series match against Turkey at Red Bull Arena.

"I have the opportunity to play in a World Cup in a country I looked up to as a kid. Being around that type of atmosphere, and also being allowed to help grow the game in my country, I'm blessed to be in that position."

Clearly a fan of the game as well as a practitioner, Dempsey said he has been tracking the matches going on around him: "There have been a lot of goals, especially from crosses," he pointed out. "You've seen four or five teams go down and come back to win the game."

It has often been said that the United States national team plays better when it has a chip on its shoulder, when it has something to prove. Dempsey didn't dispel that notion on the day before the Ghana match.

"Ghana is a good team and they've done well in the last couple of World Cups, but at the same time when it comes to a World Cup it's always a fresh slate, Dempsey said. "We need to prove to the rest of the world that we're a quality side and that we continue to develop our game in our own country and move in the right direction."

"We have the quality to go far in this tournament and that's what we're going to focus on," he added. "Our preparation has been very good and we're excited to play against Ghana."

Do you think Dempsey is primed to have a big game Monday against the Black Stars? Share your thoughts, and predictions, below.

John Godfrey is the founder and editor in chief of American Soccer Now.

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