Clint Dempsey became the first American soccer player to complete a hat trick in English Premier League play when he scored three times for Fulham in the second half of a 5-2 victory over Newcastle on Saturday.
Dempsey, a 28-year-old striker who joined Fulham five years ago after becoming a Major League Soccer star with the New England Revolution, has reached several milestones this season in England.
The hat trick, which came in a 20-minute span on Saturday, gives Dempsey 52 goals in his career with Fulham. It also gives him a career-best 15 goals this campaign, surpassing last season's 13, and nine in EPL play this season.
"Luckily the ball kept going in," Dempsey said. "We never took our foot off the gas and we took our chances."
It was the second hat trick of the year for Dempsey, who performed the feat for Fulham on Jan. 7 in a 4-0 victory over Charlton in FA Cup play.
The scoring outburst comes one day after Dempsey was selected the American male athlete of the year by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
-- Dan Loumena
Photo: Fulham striker Clint Dempsey reacts after scoring one of his three second-half goals against Newcastle on Saturday. Credit: Yui Mok / Associated Press