Designated player Clint Dempsey arrived back from Europe yesterday and was training with the Sounders today on the eve of their MLS opener against Sporting Kansas City. Both he and coach Sigi Schmid agreed he'll be available for some contribution then.
Here's a transcripe from our conversation with Dempsey:
On jetlag) “No, I’m OK. I’m fine.”
On first day back) “It’s great to be back. It’s a good atmosphere with the boys. Training went well today and I think everybody’s excited for the season.” On it it feels like a different team) “A little bit. Some new faces. I’d like to think that the squad has gotten stronger. We just have to wait and see, but it’s good to be back. The boys look like they’re in good shape, and today was fun.”
On his confidence) “I feel good. It was good for me to go over and get some fitness. I was coming off injuries and felt like I was able to go over there and get some good minutes. My body feels good, and it’s about hitting the ground running here.” On diffulties of Fulham’s coaching change) “Not really. I was going over there initially when Martin Jol was in charge. Then last minute, he was let go and then someone new came in. For me, it was going over to get fitness. I wanted to end better with people inside the club, because it’s a club that gave me my start when I went to Europe, and I had some good memories over there. So it was good to go over there and end on a good note as far as that was concerned. Like I said, it was good to get my fitness up and I was able to get a few games 90 minutes, and I was able to play with the national team, as well, get 90 minutes there and looking forward to the start of the season.”
On week of bouncing from Fulham to the national team and Seattle) “It’s been a lot of travel, but that’s what comes with it. But I’m excited to be back here. I was able to get in fairly early the other day, get some good sleep. It’s never fun to fly four hours from Cyprus to Germany and then I think it was 10 hours from Germany to Seattle, but I feel good, feel rested and I’m ready for tomorrow.”
On any nervousness playing Ukraine in Cyprus) “No, we just didn’t know if the game was going to be on or not. We know that there was unrest and civil war in Ukraine, and then heard about some stuff that was going on in Cyprus. So you just have to go and hope you’re protected and you’re able to go out and play. But yeah, it was difficult with the changing of plans and stuff like that.”
On 2-0 loss to Ukraine) “It wasn’t the best showing from us. I think we started a little bit slow. I thought second half we played better. I thought they scored against the run of play in the second half, but at the same time it was a chance for guys to get more minutes, for Jurgen to get a look at assess the team and see what players are making a difference and what players are not.”
On getting what he wanted out of loan) “For me the big thing was to get my body right and get my fitness up coming off some injuries. I was out for four and a half weeks with the calf injury that I had, and it took a little bit of an adjusting playing on the pitches over there when it’s had the most rain that it’s been since they’ve been keeping the records of it; getting used to wearing studs again from playing on turf. But it was a good experience. Yes, you would’ve liked to have done better. Yes, you would’ve liked to have helped the team out of the situation. I knew it was a difficult situation when I was going over there because of the position they were in on the table, and yeah, it’s never easy for the boys when you have three manager changes in three months.”
On adjusting to Sounders teammates and turnover) “No, I feel good. Training went well today. I was able to get some goals. I’m looking forward to helping the team any way I can tomorrow. Yeah, there will be a little bit of an adjustment period, maybe, getting to know some of the new guys, getting everybody on the same page. But I’m feeling good, my fitness levels are right and it’s about us having a really good season and pushing to win an MLS Cup.”
On challenges of relegation battle) “Yeah, I think it’s difficult for everybody -- but that’s what goes along with it, playing over there. I experienced that in my first two seasons: one time staying up on the last game, and one time the first goal I ever scored was actually the goal that kept the team up against Liverpool the second week left. It’s good to have played in those situations; I think it makes you stronger as a team. But it is difficult because you feel like you’re going through spells where not much luck is on your side and you just have to figure out a way to correct the situation. Sometimes it’s difficult. But hopefully the boys are able to do that. I think Fulham is a great club and they have the quality in the team that they shouldn’t be in that situation, and hopefully they can get out.”
On talking to Sigi about role) “It’s similar to positions I played last year, but at the same time, we have to see what the formation is going to be best for this team. We have to get in and see how that’s going to go. I’ll talk to him more about those type of things. At the same time, I just got in yesterday, so today is my first day of being with the team and being able to have a conversation with the manager -- with Sigi -- about tactics, so we’ll just see how it goes.”
On ability to play Saturday) “Yeah, I feel like I can go tomorrow. Whatever that’s going to be depends on the manager and what’s going to be best for this team. We’ll have to wait and see.”
On team awareness of MLS referee work stoppage) “Yes. Brad, the captain, brought it up to the boys, said he got an email and let us know what the situation was, so we’ll be prepared for it.”
Here's some of what Schmid had to say:
"He’ll be in the 18 tomorrow for sure. I think he was in good spirits. A lot of things change in six or seven months. The first time he came here he came into a new situation, and unfamiliar situation, and now he’s coming back home. He’s coming into a familiar situation, he knows what the team is like, what the locker room is like, what it’s all about. And you can already see it in the comfort. He banged away a couple of good goals today in the training situation and I feel very confident in what he’s going to be able to do."