By John Boyle
Sounders star Clint Dempsey and his now-crooked nose are back in Seattle after taking a short break following his return from the 2014 World Cup. He’s expected to be available for Sunday’s game against Portland, though Sounders coach Sigi Schmid wouldn’t yet say what Dempsey’s role will be.
Here’s some of what Dempsey had to say after his first practice back with his club team.
How’s the broken nose (Dempsey took a shin to the face in America’s World Cup opener, resulting in a broken nose)?
“Nose is good, I can breathe now. A little crooked, but hey, good thing I’m married, right?”
Thoughts on being back?
“It feels great. Glad to be back and excited about getting started again. I just want to say how great the guys have done since me and DeAndre have gone and just how well they’ve performed. We just want to get back on the team and try to keep that going.”
How much were you following the Sounders while you were gone?
“With the internet these days, you can see a lot, so yeah, it was exciting to see how well the boys were playing. I’m just excited to be back and be a part of this team, because it has a lot of quality in it.”
What did you make of the fan reaction to US team?
“Every time there’s a World Cup, more of mainstream America gets involved in the game, and hopefully as each World Cup goes by, more and more of those people will stay in touch with the game. It’s exciting to see all the people who got up for the games and see some of the videos from different locations, bars, different stadiums, it’s exciting.”
Thoughts on advancing out of the group stage?
“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, but still, it hurts to go out because you want to keep going and go as far as possible, because you never know how many World Cups you can be a part of. You want to be able to do something special and get on a good run, but we fought hard, we showed a lot of character, we just came up a little bit short.”
Does it take time to physically and emotionally recharge after a World Cup?
” It does, because there was just so much travel involved and so much work on the field and on tape, and just non-stop being around the game—from the camp to the traveling for the sending off games to the travel that we experienced in Brazil, the games, the media, the focus—it begins to be a lot because it is a lot of pressure. You want to do well, you want to continue the growth of the game and the sport, you want to keep pushing the game in the right direction in the States, and you feel that responsibility as a player. So 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, and now I’m recharged and I’m ready to go.”
Thoughts on DeAndre Yedlin’s play?
“It was great to see. He had no fear, he was able to go out and really show his athleticism and his energy and what he can bring to the game. He’s only 21 and he’s a player who has a lot of potential, so it’s exciting for him. I’m proud he was able to go in and do a great job. The future’s bright for him.”
How’s your fitness level after taking a week off?
“I’ve only been out for a week, so I would still think that I would be in good shape. I was able to come out today, get some good touches, and it just feels good to be back. I’ll get another session tomorrow, and I feel I’ll be ready to go.”
Do you think you’ll play Sunday?
“It’s up to the coaching staff, but yes I’m back, I want to play, it’s exciting.. 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 being there, you want to be a part of that, so hopefully I get to play a part.”
What were your top memories from the World Cup?
” Three things: being able to be in a third World Cup; from a personal standpoint being able to score in three consecutive World Cups, being the first American to do that; and then being able to advance out of the group. After the Germany game, knowing that we got out of a group that was difficult, and a lot of people counted us out and we were able to prove other people wrong but also prove ourselves right because we believed in ourselves. Those are three big memories I’ll take away from that tournament.”
What does it mean to be the first American player to score in three World Cups?
“For me it was real special, because I never knew if I was going to play in one World Cup. I remember as a kid going to bed, that’s what I would pray about and dream about and hope that one day I could do that. And being able to relive that dream three times and being able to have been 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. So I’ve been blessed in terms of my international career, but also my club career, being able to play professionally, provide for my family, and like this weekend being able to play in front of 67,000 fans at a home game is pretty exciting.”