There’s a whole slate of FA Cup 4th Round matches this weekend, kicked off by a match today that is especially interesting for viewers on this side of the pond. Everton hosts Fulham, which means it’s also a faceoff of the two best American players of this generation: Landon Donovan vs. Clint Demspey.
England FA Cup, Everton vs Fulham (3pmET, USA TV: Fox Soccer Channel)
Who’s done better with the national team? Donovan. Who’s had a better European club career? Dempsey. Who’s got more endorsements? Donovan. Who’s been better overall the past 18 months? Dempsey. Who’s done more to grow MLS? Donovan. Who’s got the better chance to be the U.S.’s first European superstar? Dempsey.
Donovan just rejoined Everton earlier this month on another short-term loan from MLS champions LA Galaxy. He had a successful loan spell with the Merseyside club two years ago, for three months at the beginning of 2010. Indeed, Everton wanted to extend the loan, but the LA Galaxy refused, and Everton manager David Moyes would have liked to have bought him–but Donovan’s valuation was too high (£10m) for the cash-strapped Everton.
On the other hand, Dempsey has been in the English Premier Leauge full-time for almost exactly five years. He joined Fulham on a $4million transfer from the New England Revolution during the January 2007 transfer window, and made his Fulham debut on January 20, 2007. He’s since scored 42 goals in 169 appearances for Fulham–setting records for not only most goals by an American in England, but claiming the record for most Fulham goals in the Premier League era (since 1992).
More from Wahl’s SI piece:
Donovan has played well since joining Everton on a short-term loan, often leading the attack and making Toffees fans wish he would stay permanently. Dempsey, meanwhile, is in the best form of his life. Think about this: the only Premier League players with more goals in all competitions this season than Dempsey (15) are Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero — a trio worth a quarter of a billion dollars on the transfer market.
Even then, as recently as last spring, English columnist Georgina Turner wrote a column for SI headlined “Dempsey still underrated Despite star performances at Fulham“–and inevitably Donovan came up:
[Dempsey’s] quality seems forever caught in soccer’s peripheral vision. In part, he has suffered from the constant comparison to Landon Donovan; up against the U.S.’ wholesome, twinkle-eyed star, Dempsey’s brooding demeanor makes him an unlikely poster boy. Donovan’s injury-time goal against Algeria at last summer’s World Cup is seared on to the nation’s memory — even people who aren’t that interested in soccer could probably describe it to you. That it was Dempsey’s run and shot that created the opportunity, leaving the box open and the goalkeeper on the floor, is merely a footnote.
Some related posts from our own archives:
On Donovan: see this post from December 2010, about Donovan deciding to pass on a similar loan deal to Everton last season, and this video of that aforementioned most famous goal in US soccer history.
On Demspey: see this post from last October about him claiming the record for most goals scored in England by an American, and this post from August 2010 speculating about how Dempsey might or might not combine with Belgian youngster Moussa Dembélé. Fulham has since added yet another cook that we like to watch into its attacking midfield kitchen–Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz. We wrote this just over a month ago, for a pre-Christmas edition of “what to watch”:
two [Fulham] players to watch: Costa Rican attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who arrived from FC Twente over the summer, and seems like he’s only now adjusting and fitting in; and Belgian striker Moussa Dembélé, who also came over after success in the Eredivisie, with AZ Alkmaar, the previous summer. We wrote at the time that perhaps Fulham might have to choose between playing him and American Clint Dempsey–but they combined rather well last year, and from what we saw in their draw versus Liverpool a couple weeks ago, Bryan Ruiz is starting to combine well with the two of them.