Tottenham Hotspur's US striker Clint Dempsey scores the equalizing goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane in London on January 20, 2013. (Photo: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
TOTTENHAM, England - Clint Dempsey got off to anything but a smooth start at White Hart Lane. In his early matches, the American striker seemed lost for long spells, unconnected with his teammates, and perhaps most importantly, lacking in confidence.
But lately, the Texas native appears to have found a foothold on his climb back to the form that saw him earn 'Player of the Season' honors at Fulham last season.
When Dempsey made the move to North London, many questioned whether or not the American international could replicate the success he enjoyed at a smaller club with less pressure to succeed. The early speculation appeared to have merit as Dempsey was benched in favor of Emanuel Adebayor following a string of starts in which the American struggled to contribute to the Spurs effort.
However, Tottenham boss Andre Villas Boas showed faith in his summer signing and kept Dempsey involved in cup competition and spot substitute play. That faith has been rewarded lately with Dempsey notching four goals in his last four games, including the last-minute equalizer against league-leading Manchester United on Sunday.
In addition to his recent string of goals, Dempsey has begun to show the steel and style that made him a favorite among the U.S.A. faithful. Against Man. Utd., Dempsey worked tirelessly, winning aerial challenges, challenging the United back line, and working to free himself in the United box, which put him in place to bang in the game-leveling effort in injury time on Sunday.
Following his goal Dempsey showed one more thing that seemed to be missing throughout his early life at White Hart Lane - a connection with Spurs fans. Dempsey raced to the fans behind the net after scoring and embraced elated Tottenham fans. Dempsey was carded for over-celebrating, but in the long run, the penalization could prove to be the moment Dempsey engrained himself into the hearts of the Lillywhite loyals.
Tottenham face Leeds Utd. (F.A. Cup), Norwich, West Bromwich Albion, and Newcastle Utd. in their next four matches. If Dempsey can continue his recent run of form, he'll not only disprove his doubters, but provide a needed goal-scoring complement to Jermaine Defoe and earn a regular role in the team's drive towards a Champions League spot.