U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey has many qualities as a player, but perhaps none more prominent than his big-game, big-moment nerve. He’s usually at his best when it matters most. His goals against Ghana in the 2006 World Cup, against Egypt and Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup, and against Juventus in the 2010 Europa League are just a few examples backing up that statement. (He also scored a crucial relegation-saving goal against Liverpool early in his Fulham career.)
So it was completely against character when he failed to score from the spot yesterday against Chelsea, with the score tied at zero and only a few ticks left on the clock. Here’s a raw clip of the sequence, including the play on which Dempsey drew the foul:
(If that clip gets copyright-claimed, try here.)
Afterward, Fulham coach Mark Hughes said the kick should have been retaken because Chelsea’s Didier Drogba stepped into the box during Dempsey’s approach:
“Drogba was encroaching in the box. [Referee] Mike Dean saw it: he was alongside Clint as he kicked it. Mike Dean saw that, so it should have been retaken.”
Hughes probably has a point, and in the replay, it looks like Drogba wasn’t alone in his encroachment.
Still, Deuce should have buried it. It’s a moment in which he delivers nine times out of ten. Yesterday, unfortunately for them, Fulham landed on the tenth.