SEATTLE (AP) — Clint Dempsey says his surprising decision to move away from Europe and sign for the Seattle Sounders was made because he wanted to move back to the United States at the prime of his career rather than wait until his playing days were almost over.

"I just missed being in America," Dempsey said on Monday after his move from Tottenham. "I wanted to help continue the growth of the game here. You can't help the growth of the game if you come back and you don't perform.

"I understand there is a lot of pressure on me to succeed, a lot of expectations that others have on me, but also the expectations I put on myself and when I decided to come back to this league, I want to make an impact. I want to do a good job. I don't want to come and be passive and not be able to make a difference in games. I want to win things."

That pull was at the heart of Dempsey's decision to have his agents contact MLS in late July and start the process that was finalized over the weekend when Dempsey signed with the Sounders, bringing back arguably the best current American player to the domestic league.

"I've been in Europe for 6 ½ years and I just wanted to come home. Each year was getting more difficult to go back," Dempsey said. "The Seattle Sounders moved mountains to get me here. It was an opportunity to come back when I was in my prime and continue growth in the league and it's a challenge."

The 30-year-old Dempsey played for the New England Revolution from 2004-06 before joining Fulham in 2007. He moved to Tottenham last summer and scored 12 goals in 43 games, but wasn't a regular starter for Spurs while being used in rotation with other attacking players. Dempsey had two years remaining on his contract at Tottenham.

Dempsey said he has yet to talk with U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann about the move and a step back in competition level from what he would get staying in the Premier League.