Clint Dempsey says his third FIFA World Cup was an answered prayer and literally a dream come true.
But now that he is back in Seattle, he said his attention is fully on the Sounders, and he is ready to join them Sunday in their Major League Soccer match against the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field.
“I’m back, I want to play,” Dempsey said Friday after his first training session with the Sounders since joining the United States’ World Cup team in May. “Anytime you can play in front of the fans that we have, and play against our rivals, in terms of the importance of the game and 67,000 fans in there, you want to be a part of that.”
Coach Sigi Schmid indicated Dempsey is in his plans.
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Dempsey’s last appearance with Sounders FC came May 11 in a 5-0 loss at New England. Then he headed to the national team’s World Cup camp and finally on to Brazil, where he captained the USA through its second-place finish in group stage and on to the round of 16 where they were eliminated by Belgium.
“It’s good because this is two World Cups in a row that we’ve been able to advance out of the group and get to the knockout stages,” Dempsey said. “But still it hurts to go out because you want to keep going and going as far as possible because you never know how many World Cups you can be a part of.”
Dempsey listed the USA’s advancement among his top World Cup memories, along with a couple of personal ones: appearing in a third World Cup and becoming the first U.S. player to score in three different World Cups.
“As a kid going to bed, that’s what I would pray about and dream about and hope that one day I could (play in the World Cup),” he said. “And being able to relive that dream three times and being the captain of the national team during a World Cup and in one of the most difficult groups, being able to be a part of that is special.”
Dempsey said it is too early to think seriously about playing in a fourth World Cup in 2018. However, he said he wants to remain with the national team as long as he can contribute, and he hopes to play in the centennial Copa America 2016, which will be held in the United States for the first time.
For now, Dempsey said he is physically and emotionally ready to return to league play.
“After the World Cup it was good of the coaching staff and the ownership to give me a little bit of a break, which I needed,” he said. “And now I’m recharged and I’m ready to go.”
The Sounders went 4-1-1 in MLS play while Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin were on World Cup duty.
Both players are back now, and forward Obafemi Martins also trained Friday after missing the last league and Open Cup matches with a hamstring injury. Dempsey and Martins top the Sounders with eight goals each, and Martins also leads the club with six assists.
“We just wanted to get him (Dempsey) into training and get his feet wet, so to speak,” Schmid said. “I thought it was a good day of training for him. … Oba and his understanding was like they had never been apart.”
Sounders FC will hold a free outdoor viewing party for the World Cup final Sunday. The event will begin at Occidental Park in downtown Seattle starting one hour before the noon first kick. … Sounders U-23 is delaying the start of its Sunday match 90 minutes to avoid conflict with the final. Sounders-U23 now will meet Victoria at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner.