ARLINGTON, Texas – When the crowd of 45,516 at AT&T Stadium rose to its feet and roared at the sight of Clint Dempsey walking over to the fourth official as a second-half substitute, Jozy Altidore knew what to expect.
“He’s a guy everyone in the stadium knows, including Costa Rica,” the Toronto FC forward said. “He’s going to cause for defenders to give him attention. If you look at the goal, two or three guys, as soon as he turns, go to him and space opens up for somebody else. He’s a guy who can still make a difference and we’re happy to have him.”
Dempsey didn’t just make a difference in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals Saturday night, he also made history. On a free kick in the 82nd minute, the Seattle Sounders forward scored his 57th career goal for the United States, tying the all-time record set by Landon Donovan.
“He does it for himself, he does it for his family, but we’re riding this wave with him. He’s taken us on an incredible adventure, a journey,” remarked Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard after the game. “No one is happier for him than us. We’re proud of him. We want him to get this record. Landon’s greatness is incredible. For ‘Deuce’ to catch him tonight and for us to be a part of it, we’re thrilled and thankful to be along for the ride.”
Even at 34 years old, Dempsey still has that ability to alter a game as he showed against the Ticos to help the United States reach the Gold Cup final for a 10th time.
“His knack for finding space, for being able to make a play to get somebody else a chance to score a goal from nothing himself, he’s done that on so many big days,” Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley said.
Dempsey didn’t say much in the locker room after the final whistle. That’s not his style. His greatest statements are made on the field and Altidore is sure there’s more to come.
“Clint is a guy who likes to keep to himself. He’s not a guy who is going to look for all the attention and we know that,” Altidore said. “Everybody is happy for him and trust me, there’s one more goal for him. He knows the job isn’t done for him yet and everyone will be pushing for him to get that record.”