FRISCO, Texas (AP) – Clint Dempsey could be leaving Major League Soccer for Europe, and a title for the New England Revolution would be a perfect send-off.

Dempsey, a World Cup player, has been the Revolution’s star midfielder. He says Sunday’s championship game against the Houston Dynamo could be his last in America before heading overseas.

“I want to move on to Europe and try myself,” said Dempsey, who is questionable to start because of an ankle sprain. “I got some interest, got a little bit of buzz during the World Cup, and that’s always been my goal. It’s looking good, but there a lot of things that still has to happen.”

The decision is not a knock against the league, said Dempsey, standing in the sleek, soccer-specific Pizza Hut Park that MLS officials believe is a sign the 11-year-old league is growing and where the last two MLS Cups have been played.

But at 23, Dempsey believes it’s time. And if he can help the Revolution win a championship, it would mark New England’s first in three MLS Cup appearances. The Revolution were also in Frisco, a moneyed suburb about 30 miles outside Dallas, a year ago for the title game but lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in overtime.

The MLS Cup also isn’t a new stage for Dynamo, who were league champions in 2001 and 2003 as the San Jose Earthquakes.

Low attendance uprooted the franchise at the end of last season to Houston. The team initially was called Houston 1836 before Hispanics complained the name offensively referred to the year Texas defeated Mexico for its independence. But settling on a name was perhaps the rockiest part of the transition for Houston, which finished 11-18-13 in the regular season.

Only five players who played in the 2003 final, including Dwayne De Rosario, remain with the Dynamo. Houston is now led by forward Brian Ching, Dempsey’s teammate in the World Cup in Germany and who shares a team-high 11 goals this season along with De Rosario.

“We’re both attacking teams,” De Rosario said. “I think it will be pretty much an open game tomorrow.”

If the game is Dempsey’s last with the MLS, he’ll say goodbye playing just 150 miles from where he grew up in the rural Texas town of Nacogdoches. Dempsey has been hobbled by a sprained right ankle. He was hurt against Chicago in the playoffs and is listed as probable, but he expects to play despite being relatively inactive the past two weeks.

“The only thing I’m going to be hesitant about is the 50-50 challenges,” said Dempsey, who scored eight goals in 21 games when he wasn’t playing in the World Cup.

Ching understands the lure of playing overseas, and would like the chance if offered. D.C. United star Freddy Adu said after his team was eliminated from the playoffs that he could also make the move to Europe as soon as next season.

New England and Houston tied 1-1 in two meetings this season. Houston will play without midfielder Ricardo Clark, one of its top attackers because he received yellow cards in the last two playoff games.

The Revolution, which returned all 11 starters from its MLS Cup lineup last season, finished the regular season 12-8-12 and was again led by Taylor Twellman. New England coach Steve Nicol doesn’t want his players to dwell on the fact that his team has lost in the final twice.

“It’s just one of those things that happened,” Nicol said. “We’re not even thinking about what’s happened previously.”

AP-ES-11-11-06 1815EST


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