Clint Dempsey returns to New England with Sounders FC
The Sounders look for a franchise record sixth straight win Sunday at New England as Clint Dempsey faces his first MLS team, the Revolution.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ New England, 3 p.m., Ch. 13
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Clint Dempsey’s second go-around in MLS makes an important stop this weekend. Call it a homecoming of sorts.
Sounders FC’s road game Sunday against the New England Revolution will mark the first time Dempsey has faced his former team, the one that welcomed him into the league as the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft.
That chapter lasted three seasons, but an amazing run of individual and team success for Dempsey and the talented Revs included winning MLS Rookie of the Year, being named to the MLS Best XI (twice), claiming the Supporters’ Shield, and making two MLS Cup appearances.
It’s time not forgotten, even after all these years.
“It’s always great to go back to where you started,” said Dempsey. “I owe a lot to that organization. They picked me up in the draft and gave me the opportunity to jump-start my career, and playing there allowed me to break into the national team and allowed me to go overseas. I have good memories there. ... It’ll be great to go back, but we’ll still be looking to get points.”
One more win for the blistering-hot Sounders would set a franchise record at six in a row and keep Seattle unbeaten on the road. It would also be a nice sendoff present from Dempsey and Seattle’s other U.S. internationals.
U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be announcing his 30-man preliminary roster for a pre-World Cup training camp Monday. Dempsey, the USMNT captain, is a lock to make the squad, while midfielder Brad Evans is also expected and homegrown defender DeAndre Yedlin is another strong possibility.
Players called into training camp will likely miss at least three league games. Players that make the final 23-man World Cup roster will miss at least five, perhaps as many as seven.
It’s a tough blow to the roster but still a good thing, according to coach Sigi Schmid.
“The opportunity to play in a World Cup is something that players dream about,” Schmid. “For some, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s something you never want to deny a player, and so for them to be able to participate ... is something that we as a club are proud of, that I as a coach am proud of, and I think that all the players on the team are most supportive of that.”
While depth stands to be tested in the future, the Sounders could have a first-choice lineup for the first time this season Sunday. Injuries have prevented personnel consistency — the team has used 10 lineups in as many games — but the return of defender Leo Gonzalez from a hamstring strain could have Seattle at full strength.
Gonzalez was on the bench for Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Dallas, but the team felt the left back wouldn’t have been able to go beyond 45 minutes without risking re-injury.
“We think if he needs to start on Sunday, he should be able to go close to 90,” Schmid said.
• Three New England players are ruled out due to injury: ex-Sounder Shalrie Joseph with a calf strain, 2013 MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves with a thigh strain and defender Kevin Alston with a hamstring strain.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184
On Twitter @joshuamayers