TORONTO - Clint Dempsey is arguably the most gifted player to ever emerge in North America.
He's also one of the wealthiest, recently agreeing to a $5-million per season deal with Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders after spells with Fulham and Tottenham of the English Premier League.
But the man who discovered him wonders if one of North America's most identifiable players could have been better.
"Would he have been even better if (we identified him earlier)?" Toronto FC Academy director Thomas Rongen said, describing to the Toronto Sun on Thursday amid TFC's youth academy tryouts how Dempsey wasn't discovered until he was 18.
Playing at Furman, Dempsey's rise to prominence began shortly after Rongen, who was coaching the U.S. under-20 national team at the time, spotted him while on a scouting trip to watch current Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark.