Clint Dempsey satisfied with U.S. performance at Copa America
Clint Dempsey called the performance of the United States at last month's Copa America Centenario "a great experience, something I'll be able to tell my kids and grandkids about."
The U.S. reached the semifinals of the tournament before falling in the third-place game against Colombia 1-0.
Prior to that, the U.S. won its group thanks to wins over Costa Rica and Paraguay, and defeated Ecuador in the quarterfinals before being soundly beaten 4-0 by Argentina in the semifinals.
That Argentina match notwithstanding, Dempsey thought there were positives to be taken away from the Copa.
"I thought it was a good tournament for us, to progress to the semifinals of a major competition," Dempsey said in an exclusive interview ahead of the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
"Copa America is always important. I'm happy with that. But still, after the tournament, we were left wanting a little bit more.
"Maybe you think you could have gotten third place in that last game against Colombia. You would have liked to have gotten third and hang your hat on that, but [I'm] proud of the performance of the team. I thought we did well."
After the U.S. fell to Colombia 2-0 in the opening game of the tournament, the hosts' disappointing display resulted in some calls for Dempsey to be removed from the lineup. But the U.S. forward answered with a team-high three goals, scoring in each of the U.S. victories.
Dempsey said the calls for him to sit were simply part of the life of being a professional soccer player.
"I think you're always under fire, whether it's from the media or from the coaches," he said. "You always have to perform, and if you don't perform you're out. You always have to have that kind of mentality being in the hot seat and trying to keep pushing.
"Sometimes you're able to figure things out, and sometimes you maybe struggle a little bit, but you've got to keep pushing, keep fighting. I've always had that mentality."
The U.S. now must find a way to carry that momentum into the last two games of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, but Dempsey says the national team's sole focus is on the upcoming games against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, as well as and Tobago four days later.
"We've got to look at these next two games," he said. "You have to get results in these next two games. You can't look past it. We have to get the right results against St. Vincent, against Trinidad if you we want to get to the hex. September is what it's all about."
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.