Shalrie Joseph eager to rejoin Clint Dempsey
Shalrie Joseph came to Seattle to win an MLS Cup, and that prospect became better when the club signed his former New England teammate and star Clint Dempsey.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Toronto FC, 4 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA — Shalrie Joseph just wants to win.
That’s why the 11-year veteran, who three times has lost in the MLS Cup final, came to Sounders FC this season. It’s also why he accepted a pay cut last week that opened up a designated-player spot on the roster.
The move was critical in allowing Seattle to make a major midseason addition, and the team didn’t disappoint, acquiring — as everyone knows by now — American superstar Clint Dempsey.
“I didn’t know it was for him, specifically,” said Joseph, who couldn’t hold back a wide smile.
The grin was telling because perhaps no one in Seattle knows what Dempsey can bring better than Joseph: The two were teammates in New England from 2004 to 2006, a stint that included back-to-back trips to the MLS Cup.
The Revolution lost those two championship games, and then again in 2007 after Dempsey left for the English Premier League, but things could be different this year with a Seattle team suddenly bursting with game-changing talent.
“The last couple of years, he’s developed into one of the best players on the U.S. team,” Joseph said of Dempsey, “and it’ll be fun to have him back in MLS definitely in the prime of his career.”
“Even though we’re playing well as a team right now, he’s going to push us, and that’s where we need to be to get to the next level.”
All things are trending up with the Sounders these days, having won back-to-back games while a handful of players are getting healthy. Joseph, for one, is back from a calf injury and could be available in Saturday’s road game at Toronto FC. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is another as he recovers from a sprained forearm.
Oddly enough, one key player missing from Tuesday’s practice was Dempsey, who came down sick Monday and was told by team doctors to stay home.
The team is in wait-and-see mode when it comes to Dempsey’s potential debut, but it could still come in Toronto, according to coach Sigi Schmid.
“We’re still a long way away from Saturday, and we’ll see how he feels at the end of the day (Wednesday),” Schmid said. “The likelihood of him going 90 minutes Saturday is very small, whether that’s starting and coming off or whether that’s coming on as a sub. We’ll have to see.”
Timbers game sold out
Believe it or not, CenturyLink Field won’t be big enough for an Aug. 25 home game against rival Portland.
The Sounders announced Tuesday that the stadium’s full capacity of roughly 66,500 was sold out and 400 additional seats in the upper level — bleachers and standing-room only — have been made available for the first time in franchise history.
The Timbers game is also expected to serve as Dempsey’s home debut.
The largest MLS crowd for a Sounders home game was 66,452 for a 3-0 win against Portland on Oct. 7, 2012. Seattle is 5-0 in front of MLS crowds over 50,000 with a 14-3 goal differential.
• GK Michael Gspurning practiced without limitation Tuesday for the first time since suffering the forearm injury July 13 in San Jose on a controversial tackle by Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart.
Asked if the tackle was dirty, Gspurning said: “I think he could’ve stopped, but it’s OK now. I don’t blame him. ... I was out three weeks and then he celebrates one week later, celebrating the goal, and it’s tough, but it’s part of the game.”