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Clint Dempsey hits career goal No. 50 in league play

Fulham v Sunderland - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Clint Dempsey of Fulham puts his thumbs up during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Sunderland at Craven Cottage on May 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

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Just a few weeks ago, Clint Dempsey wasn’t known as a free kick taker. He could hit them, of course, but Dempsey over a dead ball wasn’t Dempsey at his best.

But, like everything else around the U.S. international’s game, this is a different time. His bag of soccer tricks has expanded and pretty much everything he does now is sprinkled with magic unicorn dust.

A few weeks ago Dempsey hit a wonderful free kick goal against Bolton. That was back on April 7. (In fact, a Dempsey double that day at the Reebok Stadium halted a three-game winning run in league play for Bolton. The Wanderers have pretty much hit the skids since then, with just one win in six matches. Which is why things look so bleak in the relegation fight for Bolton, a team that includes Americans Tim Ream and Stuart Holden.)

Back to Dempsey: Now he’s starting to score regularly off free kicks.

Yesterday, his milepost 50th goal in league play came off a free kick, another beauty, this one in a 2-1 win over Sunderland.