Sounders eager to play alongside Dempsey

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comAugust 5, 2013 

After watching Seattle Sounders FC fly past FC Dallas, 3-0, on Saturday, coach Sigi Schmid was asked how he will incorporate new forward/midfielder Clint Dempsey into an offensive engine that already seems to be revving pretty well.

“Having good players is always a good problem to have,” Schmid said. “Adding a player like Clint is going to be very important for our team. Our team (Saturday) went out there and showed that we could play. … We’ve got to continue to be dangerous from numerous sources.”

Seattle’s existing star power showed up on the scoreboard Saturday. Goals came from designated player Obafemi Martins and U.S. national team members Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans, while the assists came from Evans and designated player Mauro Rosales.

Dempsey – the U.S. national team captain and its second-leading all-time goal scorer (35) behind the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Landon Donovan (56) – will begin training with the Sounders this week, and Schmid indicated he could make his Sounders debut Saturday at Toronto FC. Seattle is on the road the following week, too – Aug. 17 at Houston – meaning Dempsey’s home debut will likely come Aug. 25, when all of CenturyLink Field will be open, creating a capacity of about 67,000 for a nationally televised game against rival Portland.

Dempsey had met with his new teammates Saturday before the game, but was unavailable to the general media. However, he spoke briefly at halftime of the Channel 5 game telecast.

“I am excited to be back in America,” he said. “I love being here. This is a really big opportunity: to get the chance to be a professional, having to come back in my prime and be able to make a difference. … You want to come in and get straight to scoring goals. Hopefully, it will be a smooth transition.”

A press conference with Dempsey, team president Peter McLoughlin and general manager Adrian Hanauer is scheduled for Monday.

Neither McLoughlin nor Hanauer have met with reporters since the signing was announced.

However, Sounders players weighed in from their vibrant locker room Saturday.

 •  Johnson: “Clint is a very experienced player. He knows this game inside and out, and if you look at his career he’s always adapted to his situation. Even from when he was a rookie in the MLS, he’s been going up and up and up, and I know that he’s going to score many goals here and that he’s going to be a fantastic addition to this team.”

 •  Evans: “Clint who? (laughs) Oh, Dempsey. It’s one of those where you never think it would happen. … It’s great for the game, the team; it’s great for MLS and (I’m) obviously looking forward to playing with him.”

 •  Martins: “He’s going to be good for me and Eddie and Lamar (Neagle) as well and the other players because we need good players on the team. He’s welcome, and I hope he’s going to do well here.”

 •  Defender Zach Scott: “It’s pretty mind-blowing to be honest. It’s not something I expected, and to be honest it’s not something anybody on the team expected. … He just looks like a guy that you just expect to see playing in Europe. But it’s fantastic. It really shows just how serious this club takes winning.”

 •  Defender Djimi Traoré: “He will make a difference here, and he’s a good addition to the team. I think we need this kind of player on the team. It’s big for us – captain of the U.S. team. He could do great, great, great, great things for us.”

 •  Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann: “More firepower, if we don’t already need it, which is unbelievable. … It was just great to see it get done and we can only thank the staff here. It’s unbelievable to get a player of that quality who is still 30. And I have a new fishing buddy, so I’m excited.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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