Dempsey Fires Back at Harkes Criticism—One Year Later

Remember when ESPN commentator and former U.S. national teamer John Harkes criticized Clint Dempsey during last summer’s Confederations Cup? Harkes said Deuce was not working hard, was being careless with the ball and needed to be replaced on the field.

Well, Dempsey filed that one away, and yesterday, nearly a full year after the fact, he corralled SI’s Grant Wahl and returned fire, sawed-off shotgun style:

“He criticized me in [Confederations Cup] for looking tired and said I should be benched, but I was top three in distance covered in the whole tournament,” Dempsey told me. “It’s funny that he criticized me so much and yet I feel like I’ve done more in my international career than he has. Just compare our national-team stats. I’ve also scored in a World Cup, scored three goals in Confederations Cup, and got the Bronze Ball for third-best player in the whole tournament. Look at what he’s done. I’m 27 and still have a lot of games left in me and he’s finished.”

Wahl has Harkes’s (classy) response, as well as a comparison of the two players’ careers. Worth a read.

England 2010 vs U.S. 1998

Both named John, ...

...both were captain, both....

First it was the Beatles ripping off the Shirelles and Chuck Berry. Then the Stones and Eric Clapton copped from American Blues. Now England is at it again, this time in the world of soccer: national-team captain John Terry getting involved with teammate Wayne Bridge’s wife? That is so U.S., circa 1998.

Last night, Eric Wynalda confirmed the long-simmering rumors about the real reason U.S. captain John Harkes was kicked off the ’98 U.S. team just two months before the World Cup in France: He was having an affair with Wynalda’s wife, Amy.

Wynalda brought it up on Fox Football Fone-In, the show he co-hosts with Brit Nick Webster, and also told the AP that there was “an inappropriate relationship. It was a major contributor to why I’m no longer married.” Wynalda split from his wife in 2003. They have three children.

“There’s a lot of similarities between what happened to us in ’98 and what’s happening now to England,” Wynalda said. “It’s an unfortunate time for England, because I know how that can affect a team firsthand. Obviously, we all know how we did in the World Cup in ’98.”

And that was with news of the affair all but squelched; England’s current mess is splashed all over the ruthless British tabloids.

Click here for then-U.S. coach Steve Sampson’s take on the matter.