By John Boyle
Clint Dempsey spoke to reporters for the first time since Major League Soccer suspended him two games last week, and as you might expect, the Sounders midfielder wasn’t happy with the league’s decision, though he knows that doesn’t matter much at this point.
“Disappointed,” he said. “I don’t agree with it. It is what it is, and move on.”
After Dempsey’s suspension, which will keep him out of Saturday’s game against Columbus, was announced, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his concern, noting that it doesn’t come at an ideal time with Dempsey expected to play for his country next week’s friendly against Mexico, and also that the league should do a better job to protect stars like Dempsey from persistent fouling.
“Yeah, for sure,” Dempsey said when asked if he appreciated Klinsmann’s support. “It’s always good to know that the manager has your back, and I appreciate that. All I can do is keep working hard, keep working on my fitness after training and make sure that I play well when with I’m with the national team, like I’ve always done in the past, and make sure I keep playing good with the national team moving forward and pay him back for his faith in me.”
As for the idea of protecting players from constant fouling—Dempsey was fouled six times in Seattle’s loss to Toronto, which may well have contributed to his temper getting the better of him momentarily—Dempsey echoed the sentiment of some of his teammates, who suggested following that Toronto game that referees should be quicker to show cards in order to curb persistent fouling.
“I think lots of players get fouled,” Dempsey said. “I think it’s maybe giving cards earlier in games and maybe you won’t see as many fouls, and you’ll see more of a rhythm to the game for spectators to watch. I think it’s important to protect every player. The sooner you start getting cards for reckless fouls, then it cuts down on a lot of things and it makes the game more exciting to watch, because there is more free flow to it.”