Clint Dempsey of Fulham puts his thumbs up after the...

Clint Dempsey of Fulham puts his thumbs up after the match between Fulham and Sunderland at Craven Cottage. (May 6, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The ball had another five yards to go, but Clint Dempsey started celebrating anyway.

The American -- and Fulham's best player -- knew that his curling free kick was destined for the back of the net almost as soon as he hit it. His gorgeous goal in the 12th minute of Sunday's 2-1 win over Sunderland was the 17th EPL goal in what has become a legendary season. It was his 23rd goal in all competitions this year, but more notably, the strike was the 50th league goal of his English career.

Dempsey lined up the shot in the 12th minute from 30 yards away and struck it confidently toward the right post. It steered toward the top right corner and past a diving Simon Mignolet to give Fulham the early lead in the team's home finale. With the victory, the Cottagers sit in 8th place and conclude the season May 13 at Tottenham.

The kid whose first career EPL goal in 2007 was a relegation-saver against Liverpool is now all grown up and scoring at will. Having matched or increased his goal total in each of his six seasons with the Cottagers (1, 6, 7, 7, 12, 17), Dempsey is destined for bigger things this summer.

Think he'll stay or go? While you ponder that, check out his 50th below: 

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