ORLANDO, Fla. -- The argument is over. The incumbent has conceded. On Wednesday, what many U.S. fans already believed became official: Clint Dempsey has surpassed Landon Donovan as King of American Soccer.
If there were any lingering doubts, Donovan himself dispelled them in front of a quartet of national media outlets during a rare, 30-minute conversation during which the national team's all-time leading scorer and longtime leading man essentially passed the baton to Dempsey on the eve of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
"Everybody talks about who's better, Clint or Landon," Donovan told the group. "I'm happier probably than anybody when he's succeeding he still has that crazy hunger to succeed."No doubt about that. With 23 goals in all competitions for Fulham this past season, including 17 in the English Premier League, Dempsey is coming off the greatest season an American has had overseas, and he'll be the focal point for the U.S. attack as the long road to Brazil 2014 begins. And while Donovan, at 30, concedes he's now on the downslope of his own stellar career (props to SI.com's Grant Wahl for winning the transcribing race), Dempsey is convinced his best days are ahead of him.