Perhaps England's anxious state contributed to Dempsey's first-half goal, which at this point is the World Cup's most-talked-about goal, a two-hopper that fumbled off the hands of England goalie, Robert Green, and rolled across the line, a save that Dempsey admitted "probably the keeper should have made."
When Dempsey hit it, he figured it was a dud.
"But as soon as I saw when it hit his hands and moved to the side a little, I was - it's like when you're bowling, you're leaning over, hoping it'll go for you," Dempsey explained, reliving the moment in his seat, looking around an imaginary corner. "I saw it go past the line, I was looking at the ref to see people's reaction, and I saw a linesman running back and that's when I knew I could celebrate.
"I've celebrated before when I've scored and been offside and [looked] like an idiot," the striker concluded.
Convinced a celebration was justified, Dempsey pointed to the starry South African sky. He was looking up to his sister, Jennifer, who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm when she was 16 years old and he was 12.
After each goal he scores - for country or club - Dempsey looks upward.
In 2007, he explained this tradition to the U.K. paper, the Guardian.
"It's weird, because I remember something she told me," Dempsey told the paper. "We would talk about death and she said, 'If I ever pass away, do you want me to come back and let you know I'm OK?' I said: 'No, that would scare me too bad!' We talked about it some more and she said: 'Well, if I ever die, I will help you get the ball in the net.' And that's why I look up to the sky now when I score - to remember her."
For the United States, Dempsey, 27, has scored 19 goals in 63 appearances. He is only the second American to score a goal in two separate World Cups (2006 and now 2010), but for some reason he's appreciated more in England, where he plays for Fulham of the English Premier League, than in his home country.
In past years, he's been called lazy and an underachiever when playing for his country, but among the Brits, he's considered a top-notch footballer, a guy with serious skills, a Yank they appreciate and embrace.
At the team's May training camp in Princeton, when asked about his reputation in his home country, Dempsey proceeded to list his international achievement: three goals in last summer's Confederations Cup, four goals in World Cup qualifying, and the only U.S. goal in the 2006 World Cup.
"I pride myself in stepping up on big occasions," Dempsey said.
An occasion such as March 11, when Dempsey's remarkable goal against the Italian club Juventus in the Europa League's round of 16 - a chip shot from the corner of the box - propelled Fulham to the best finish in a European competition in its 131-year history.
The Guardian wrote that Dempsey's strike, "might become the most famous goal in Fulham's history."
"Clint, he's always playing - you look at the national team or the club level, he has everything," said U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who plays in the Premiership for Wolverhampton. "He has all the tricks, he does stuff with the ball before training and you watch him and you don't even know how he comes close to doing that stuff. He tries stuff on the field, he'll do stuff - stuff that we could only dream of, most of us. He does shoot. He shoots from everywhere."
Dempsey doesn't mind this designation: shooter.
"I'm someone that always buys the lottery tickets, you know what I mean, always takes a shot," Dempsey explained. "You don't shoot, you don't score - maybe that's it."
When asked about Friday's match against Slovenia, a team atop Group C with three points, he doesn't tell you they'll be taking it "one game at a time," or that they're going to do their best and "let the chips fall where they may."
Dempsey is honest.
"We can't lose this next game," Dempsey said. "We have to get something from this next game. If we lose, we're pretty much done."
Read Kate Fagan's World Cup blog, Kickin' It, every day from South Africa at www.philly.com/worldcup.
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Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.