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Originally published July 18, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Page modified July 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM

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Clint Dempsey provides link from Sounders to Tottenham Hotspur

Sounders star Clint Dempsey played one season for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League before coming to Seattle.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Clint Dempsey rocked the soccer world last year when he transferred to the Seattle Sounders from Tottenham Hotspur.

This weekend will be a chance for him to reunite with his former team in a friendly scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

Dempsey spent one season with Tottenham, after six years spent with fellow English Premier League club Fulham. He played in 29 Premier League matches during that 2012-13 season for Hotspur and scored seven goals.

But when Seattle called, Dempsey answered, signing a contract that pays him $6.86 million a year.

“The season that we were (with Tottenham), I think we were able to get to 72 points, one of the highest points totals in a season, but came up short in terms of being able to qualify for Champions League,” Dempsey said. “I had a good time there, good memories. It’s a team that has a lot of quality in it.”

It’s also a team that doesn’t have a lot of practice under its belt heading into Saturday’s match. The friendly with Seattle will be Hotspur’s first preseason game of the year, after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season.

Tottenham goalkeeper — and former goalie for the U.S. men’s national team — Brad Friedel joked that Seattle would be much more in shape than Hotspur on Saturday, but that it was all part of the process.

For Seattle, it’s all about maintaining a rhythm as the team bridges between midseason and the pre-playoffs homestretch.

“They’re in preseason form. It’s just part of their preparation,” Dempsey said of Tottenham. “At the same time, it’s just a friendly game for us. What’s most important for us is how we do in the season.”

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, who coached Friedel at UCLA, recognizes the connection between Seattle and Tottenham. More than anything, he appreciates that Dempsey is one of those bridges.

“Obviously for Clint, that was a great opportunity to come back to MLS,” he said. “It was great for our league to come back, and I think he’s certainly shown what he’s capable of on the field and scored some important goals for us.”

Dempsey leads the Sounders this year in goals scored with nine. But he’s not the only Sounders-Tottenham connection. There is the Friedel-Schmid linkage, after the two won an NCAA title in 1990 at UCLA.

Before the Sounders were an MLS team, Mike England played for the North American Soccer League version of the Sounders. England had previously played in 116 EPL games for Tottenham, and is a member of Tottenham’s Hall of Fame.

Kasey Keller, the Sounders’ goalkeeper from 2009 to 2011 and now one of the team’s broadcasters, played in 85 Premier League matches for Tottenham between 2001 and 2005.

Keller is in Seattle this week for the match, and knows as well as anyone what both of his former teams will face when they step on the pitch.

“It’s their first competitive match in this new preseason with this new manager,” Keller said of Tottenham. “But it also has a group of guys who are looking to prove something, so it should be a real stiff competition for the team.”

As for former Hotspur player Dempsey, his time in England is firmly in the rearview, replaced by the rave green of the Sounders.

“Whatever team you play for, you represent the best that you can there and win games wherever you’re at,” he said. “For me, that’s Seattle.”

Note

• The Sounders signed midfielder Aaron Long. Terms were not disclosed.



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