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“What you dream about as a kid” -- USMNT’s Dempsey keeps making history

United States v Ecuador: Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16: Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States follows the play against against Ecuador during the 2016 Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario match at CenturyLink Field on June 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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This generation, as much as any before it, has a horrible knack for overrating “the moment” in sports.

So I have extreme reservations about saying this after one of the bigger wins in United States men’s national team history, but I’ll do it anyway.

[ USMNT: Match recap | 3 things | Player ratings ]

Clint Dempsey, like several players who will come after him, has a legit chance at being the most memorable player in USMNT history.

Dempsey scored a goal and assisted Gyasi Zardes’ tally in Thursday’s Copa America Centenario quarterfinal win over Ecuador, and the Texan forward looms over Landon Donovan’s legacy as the best U.S. player yet.

Dempsey is five goals shy of Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, a record we’ll -- theoretically -- see tempted time and again as the national team continues to improve on a generational basis.

Here’s what the Seattle Sounders attacker said about his teammates late Thursday night after the win:

“These last two games they showed it. (We were) difficult to break down and showed a lot of heart really. We keep going, and we’re in the semifinals of a major competition.

“It’s always great to do it at home, and to do it for the States. It’s what you dream about as a kid. I’m blessed.”

At the risk of sounding far-too-nationalist, the United States will continue to progress on the world stage. Yes, “Soccernomics” has been hinting at this for years, but our giant country is increasingly focused on soccer, and our youth is now being trained by coaches who were coached by people who played the game.

That may sound naive, but it’s not something of which most youth players had the advantage growing up. And moving forward, U.S. players will have better opportunities at a younger age than any generation beforehand.

So while we celebrate the United States’ progress as a national team, know that surnames like Donovan, Dempsey and Lalas are more foundation builders than we ever suspected. For a nation as huge as ours, they could slip down the leading goal scorer and caps charts faster than we ever expected.

Follow @NicholasMendola