Clint Dempsey is expected to arrive back in the Puget Sound area today and coach Sigi Schmid said he will "play a role" in the Sounders' MLS opener Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.
Schmid also said a lot more about Dempsey, his role with the U.S. national team and his now-completed loan to Fulham:
On Dempsey for Saturday: He’ll play a role to us. I’ve got to talk to him. He lands here today. We’ve gone back and forth on text a little bit, but I said let’s talk after you land, see how you feel after the flight and everything – when we didn’t know how many minutes you will play. Obviously he played all 93, so we’ll have to see how it will go from there.
On Dempsey's performance in USA's loss to Ukraine: “I thought his performance was OK. It was a difficult game for the team. The team looked a little bit disjointed, and it’s also a strange thing when the game is on again/off again — ‘Where is the game going to be played? — that type of thing. But for Jurgen, I’m sure for him it answered some question. For Clint, it was I think a difficult game because the team’s possession out of the back wasn’t as it normally is I think.
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On if Dempsey is still the player the club signed last summer: “Nothing has changed with Clint. I think there’s a lot of pressure on him, and I think everybody should back off a little bit and not put so much pressure on him. It’s a situation of he’s the kind of player who wants to perform, he wants to do well, he wants to succeed and obviously the expectations are he has to be a magic man every time he steps on the field. He doesn’t have to be a magic man every time he steps on the field; he’s got to be Clint Dempsey, and Clint Dempsey can do things that affect the game and impact the game and make plays by playing the way he normally plays. And so right now, I think everybody has these super-high expectations, and it’s a little bit unfair because he’s been in difficult situations. Coming here without a preseason and jumping into an MLS season in the middle of the year is difficult. Going to a team that’s fighting relegation is difficult, as well. And now he comes back here. So I think with time he’ll do well. We’ll get him ready for Jurgen, but more so than anything we’ll have him ready for Seattle.”
On how that pressure can be relieved: Pressure is always there every time you step on the field, and you’ve got to embrace it. You’ve got to embrace it and you have to want to deal with it; and he wants to deal with it, and he wants to embrace it, and now it’s having some things go your way. Sometimes the rub of the green just isn’t happening for you and you need the rub of the green to happen for you a couple of times, and then all of a sudden the steam gets out of the pot and all of a sudden you can play better. For him, he just needs the rub of the green a little bit.
On who the loan to Fulham benefitted: It was a determination of what everybody felt would be the best situation in conjunction with ourselves, with him, with the national team, with everything. So for him it was good because it allowed him to get fit and get game time in, so I’m not worried about his fitness. I’m only worried about his fitness when you’re asking him to play three games in a week across continents. But outside of that I think it was fine, and I think it was the right thing to do.
Difficult if it's difficult integrating him so late: No, because we know him. Oba’s played with him now; Neagle’s played with him already. Pappa hasn’t played with him, but Evans has played with him, Alonso has played with him; so we’ve got a lot of guys now that have played with him. Last year, really nobody had played with him, except Eddie and Brad in terms of international team experience. I think that makes it a lot easier.