Even when all signs indicated the move was imminent, fans could still hardly fathom the thought of it. Clint Dempsey was going to become a Sounder, one of the biggest acquisitions in MLS history.

It couldn’t be true, could it?

In the days leading up to the stunning announcement in August, hopeful supporters were keenly tracking incoming flights to Seattle. A dedicated group even went to SeaTac Airport in hopes of catching the arrival of the U.S. national team star. And no sensation would be complete, of course, without a catchy Twitter hashtag: #DempseyWatch

While reality ultimately didn’t live up to expectation in 2013, there is hardly anyone better equipped to lead the Sounders to MLS Cup glory. Dempsey’s extreme competitiveness, something noted by former teammates and coaches, along with friends and family, won’t stand for continued disappointment.

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As a kid, Dempsey made his siblings keep playing with him — whatever the game or activity — until he won, and it was that drive that led a boy from a small town in east Texas to success at the highest levels of the sport.

Consider it a bad sign for MLS opposition.

Joshua Mayers