Clint Dempsey is a striker, so he knows he is often judged simply by whether he puts the ball in the net or not.
The latter happened a couple of times Sunday in the Sounders’ 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City. One shot was saved. One was sent just wide. And after returning to training Tuesday, Dempsey accepted that as part of soccer.
“It comes with the game,” he said. “Sometimes you score, sometimes you don’t. I’ve played five games since I’ve come back from injury, been able to contribute to four goals: one goal, three assists.
“So I’m happy with my play. It feels good to get into those spots again. … I didn’t really feel I had the legs to make that kind of run in the San Jose game (Sept. 12) and the Vancouver game (Sept. 19).”
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After appearing in 26 games last season, Dempsey has been in and out of the lineup this year. His absences have come from U.S. national team duty, injury and suspension — after tearing a referee’s notebook in the U.S. Open Cup. Amid all that, he has started 17 of Seattle’s 31 games.
“It seems like I’m always going away, especially in the summertime with the national team,” he said. “Yes, this year I’ve had more injuries. The year before I didn’t have any injuries, and this year I’ve had two or three hamstrings, so that’s been frustrating, especially the last one. It seems like it’s taken me a while to get back at full fitness.
“But like I said, I’ve played in 17 games this year; I’ve contributed eight goals and nine assists. So I’ve contributed a goal a game. I’m happy with that return, but I’m pushing to get more goals.”
When available and producing, Dempsey is a difference maker. Seattle is 11-3-3 when Dempsey starts, 9-2 when he has a goal or an assist.
However, by the time the Sounders next take the pitch — 6:30 p.m. Sunday against league-leading Los Angeles — it will have been almost exactly a month since Dempsey’s last goal, Sept. 5 against Toronto. He attributes part of that drought to lingering effects from the hamstring injuries. But he seemed encouraged that he is getting closer to full health.
“I’ve been trying to get back to 100 percent,” he said. “Hopefully I’m getting closer to that and I’ll be ready for the game. … I’m feeling better. Last game, I was able to make those runs to get into the box. A few weeks before, I wasn’t able to make it.”
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said the club doesn’t yet know if there will be NFL markings on the pitch Sunday when the Sounders play the Galaxy in a nationally televised game at CenturyLink Field. The Seattle Seahawks will play the Detroit Lions there less than 24 hours later on “Monday Night Football.” … Coach Sigi Schmid said the Sounders are as close to full health as they have been all season. Everyone is expected to be available except central defender Roman Torres, who is out for the season after knee surgery. … The Sounders will play Sunday in their pitch-black kits, featuring usual jersey sponsor Xbox but with the addition of “Halo 5 Guardians,” the latest in the video gaming series. It will mark the first time that the Sounders play an MLS home match in anything but rave green, and marks the first in-season alteration of the jersey sponsorship. … Lagerwey and Schmid expressed satisfaction with the inaugural Sounders 2 USL season, which ended Friday with playoff elimination at Colorado Springs. “There are definitely some players that showed themselves well for this team, and people that we’re certainly going to keep an eye on and keep involved,” Schmid said. “And there’s other guys that showed maybe, OK, maybe the next step isn’t really there for them. But I thought they had a good season.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808