MLS Soccer

Sounders prepare for NYCFC without Dempsey

United States’ Clint Dempsey, center, controls the ball as he dribbles in between Ecuador’s Christian Noboa, right, and Walter Ayovi during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match, June 16 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
United States’ Clint Dempsey, center, controls the ball as he dribbles in between Ecuador’s Christian Noboa, right, and Walter Ayovi during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match, June 16 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Associated Press

The bad news of the United States’ loss to Argentina doesn’t even come with the corresponding good news of Clint Dempsey’s return to the Seattle Sounders.

Copa America Centenario includes a consolation match, and so Dempsey and the rest of the United States national team are in Glendale, Arizona, where they will finally conclude their tournament at 5 p.m. Saturday. But the Sounders’ next MLS match starts three hours before that, when New York City FC visits fully opened CenturyLink Field.

There had been speculation that national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann might release some of his veteran players back to their club teams before then, but Seattle coach Sigi Schmid wasn’t buying.

“I don’t see Jurgen sending every MLS player back to their teams,” he said after Sounders training Wednesday. “The tournament goes through that third-place game, so that’s where everybody’s going to be.”

And while that’s not the best news for the struggling Sounders, Seattle captain Brad Evans said it’s probably welcomed news for the U.S. national team after its 4-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinals Tuesday.

“After a game like that and you don’t play your best, you want to compete again and again and again to show that you can play good soccer, that you can still break world-class teams down,” he said. “And the U.S. team can do that. They’ll be chomping at the bit to prove themselves against another top 15, top 10 opponent come Saturday.”

Against top-ranked Argentina, Evans said the United States did the one thing it most hoped to avoid.

“Anytime you play against a team like that, the night before you’re thinking, ‘Just don’t give up an early goal,’ and then when it happens, it is deflating because Argentina’s flying after that,” he said. “They say, ‘All right if we’ve high-pressed and allowed ourselves to get a goal early, why not continue that high press, put them under a lot of pressure, make them panic a bit.’ And they did that. They executed perfectly.”

Argentina jumped ahead in the third minute on a goal by Ezequiel Lavezzi, assisted by Lionel Messi. That lead doubled in the 32rd minute when Messi steered a free kick into the top right corner.

“That second goal is as good as any goal you’re ever going to see in your lifetime,” Schmid said. “It’s just one of those days. … Obviously they could have played better. Some days it doesn’t bounce for you. I’m sure if they could play it again, they’d all love to play it again and put in a better performance.”

ADDED TIME

During Copa America, what was originally said to be a temporary privacy screen was draped along the fence bordering the Sounders’ training fields at Starfire Sports Complex. Now Seattle’s host duties for Copa have ended, but the screen remains and Schmid hopes that it stays permanently. “I like it,” he said. “…It just gives us a more enclosed feeling at training and allows for more concentrated work. … We’ve asked for it to stay.” Schmid said the ultimate decision isn’t his, and the club had no immediate word on its plans. … Schmid said all of his regular players are healthy, while the rehab of central defender Roman Torres (knee) continues on schedule.

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