Sounders await word on Dempsey, weather

Staff writerMarch 19, 2014 

sounders v toronto

Sounders midfielder Clint Dempsey controls the ball in an MLS soccer match at Century Link Field in Seattle, March 15, 2014. The Seattle Sounders lost to Toronto FC, 2-1.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer

The Seattle Sounders are scheduled to travel to Montreal on Thursday, hopeful that there will be a game against the Impact on Saturday and that Clint Dempsey will be allowed to play in it.

Neither of those issues was certain Wednesday, as the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee considered action against Dempsey and a late-winter snowfall in Quebec put the game itself in question.

The Dempsey issue dates to Saturday, when he slapped Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom below the belt during Seattle’s 2-1 home loss. Dempsey acknowledged the incident but called it an accident while trying to brush Bloom’s hand from his back.

That incident and others could be reviewed by the league. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid disputed unattributed media reports of a two-game suspension for Dempsey, but he acknowledged the issue wasn’t resolved.

“We’ve got to wait until the league makes an announcement,” he said.

“ ... We’ve heard that it’s being looked at, that they’re going to come to a decision.”

Dempsey has contributed a goal and an assist over the Sounders’ first two games, matching his totals from the 12 games he played for Seattle last season.

“If you’re missing a player like Clint, it’s an important piece of the puzzle for your team,” Schmid said. “At this stage, when you look at minutes played, he’s the most fouled player in the league, and our team is the most fouled team in the league. Hopefully that gets looked at and taken into account a little bit.”

Schmid said the Sounders hope to have a resolution on Dempsey’s status before the club departs for Montreal. However, the MLS appeals process could delay an announcement until Friday.

That’s the same day the Impact expects to confirm that its 1 p.m. Saturday match against the Sounders will be played as scheduled.

Because of the possibility of severe winter weather, the Impact annually schedules early-season home games indoors at Olympic Stadium instead of Saputo Stadium, their regular open-air home.

The problem is that there are limits to the amount of snow the Olympic Stadium roof can safely withstand.

“(The limit of) a few centimeters is enough because they make the snow melt,” Impact executive vice president Richard Legendre said. “So in the end, we’re quite confident even though there is a forecast of 5 centimeters (1.97 inches) for Saturday that we still will be fine.

“We’ve been under that scenario for the last three years, and we’ve never had a problem. But 24 hours (before the scheduled first kick), that’s when it’s confirmed 100 percent.”

Legendre said ticket sales have topped 25,000 for what would be the Sounders’ first visit to Olympic Stadium. The club’s only other trip to Montreal came in the Impact’s 2012 expansion season and marked the opening of renovated Saputo Stadium.

Schmid said he hopes his club will be able to train or at least visit Olympic Stadium before playing there. But even without the stadium issues, he said Montreal is one of the more difficult trips in MLS.

“It takes a full day to travel there because you can’t get there direct anyway, so you have to connect into Montreal, and it makes it a little difficult,” he said. “We know it’s going to be cold. We’re going to be training indoors the day before the game and then play the game indoors, so this one is a little bit unusual that way.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808
don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
@donruiztnt

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