Comparing Donovan and Dempsey: International Goals Versus Caps

With Clint Dempsey recently moving to within one goal of Landon Donovan's USMNT goal-scoring record of 57, I thought it would be interesting to compare them and other top USMNT goalscorers by plotting goals scored as a function of international appearances ("caps"). The top five players on that list (in order) are Donovan, Dempsey, Altidore, Wynalda, and McBride. Unfortunately, I was able to find lists of international goals scored for only four of these five players, with Altidore the odd man out. And of these, only Donovan's and Dempsey's lists associated cap number with goal scored. Thus far I haven't been able to find any list of Wynalda's or McBride's international appearances, which is surprising to me. Also surprising is the fact that as recently as today, US Soccer's own USMNT "Records" page has not been updated with any stats since 2015, at least for the goalscorers category.

So at least for now I'm limited to comparing Donovan (157 caps) and Dempsey (132 caps to date), but if I had to pick a pair to plot, it would be these two given that they are virtually even at the top of the goal scoring list. Here is that plot (click to enlarge):

What struck me about this figure is that Donovan and Dempsey were dead even around about the 105 cap mark, after which Dempsey's scoring rate noticeably increased relative to Donovan's over the same subsequent 17 match period. If Dempsey's health allows it, it will be interesting to see if he continues pulling away from Donovan at similar rate or moves back toward Donovan's line as he approaches 150 caps. If not for a late burst of goals from Donovan spanning caps 145 to 150, Dempsey would be well on top of the USMNT record goal scoring list already.


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