Sounders Insider

Dempsey introduced to Sounders before game; players react, EJ denies recruiting credit

Neither Clint Dempsey, owner Joe Roth nor general manager Adrian Hanauer were made available to the media tonight, waiting instead for an introductory press conference on Monday.

However, coach Sigi Schmid and his players spoke a bit about the hyper-high-profile signing of Dempsey, which the players learned about this way:

"Today, he came in before the game and we introduced him to the guys and he met the guys on the team before the game," Schmid said. "I wanted them to know before everybody else knew, so it was good. I think everybody realizes that we have the potential to get to the playoffs—that’s where we need to get to, we need to get to the playoffs to put ourselves in a good position and then make noise. Last year, the two fifth-place teams ended up playing for MLS Cup. We are, technically right now point-wise, we’re not in the playoff picture. When you look at points per game, we’re pretty close, we just have to make sure we get into the playoffs.”More from SCHMID:On Dempsey joining the existing offensive talent: “Having good players is always a good problem to have. Adding a player like Clint [Dempsey] is going to be very important for our team. Our team tonight went out there and showed that we could play. Tonight I think we set a record for games undefeated at home—consecutive games undefeated at home. That’s something that is really helped us—our home form so far. Being able to score from different places on the field, getting Oba [Martins] on the sore line, getting Eddie [Johnson], and Lamar [Neagle] getting taken down for that PK. We’ve got to continue to be dangerous from numerous sources.”

EDDIE JOHNSONOn if he deserves credit for recruiting his U.S. national team teammate: That’s not on me at all. I promise if it was, man … But I’m happy. I’m happy for him. It’s good for the league having a player like Clint come back at a young age – still has many more years of soccer left in him. It shows you where soccer is in this country: having guys like that come back says a lot about how much the league is growing, how much better the soccer is in America, and it’s only going to attract may other good football players throughout the world. Having a guy like Clint in Seattle – great contribution to the team.

Goalkeeper MARCUS HAHNEMANNOn what Dempsey will bring to the team: “More firepower if we don’t already need it which is unbelievable. My phone was going crazy on Thursday with all of the rumors, and I’m all like ‘No I don’t know anything’, but when they didn’t say anything the next day we were optimistic, and I had a feeling that it was going to happen. And then when they don’t deny it when you come into the training room. And then when Randy Noteboom, our head trainer is gone I was like ‘Oh, I have a feeling that they might be taking a look at Clint (Dempsey) today, getting the physical done.’ It was just great to see it get done and we can only thank the staff here. It’s unbelievable to get a player of that quality who is still 30, and I have a new fishing buddy so I’m excited.” Midfielder BRAD EVANSOn reaction to Clint Dempsey signing: Clint who? (laughs) Oh, Dempsey. Yea obviously positive. It’s one of those where you never think it would happen. It’s almost like one of those ones where it’s almost a joke when you first hear about it. You first hear the rumblings, you hear about people going to Sea-Tac and hanging out and it’s cool. It’s great for the game, the team; it’s great for MLS and obviously looking forward to playing with him.

On fans staking out airport looking for Dempsey: It makes it feel like it’s a real thing. It makes you feel like it’s proper, it’s a real sport you know and that’s the passion that you need. It probably wasn’t there even five or six years ago. I think before our team came along there wasn’t anything like that. People weren’t staking out at airports to see their favorite players coming in and that just says a lot to the game and how much its grown. It’s a cultural thing too, and now it’s becoming that way. For the game to progress it needs to be in the culture of the community and you see that. On if the game felt like an extended celebration: Yeah absolutely. You always want to put in a good performance when you sign a big name player and know that everybody’s putting in the work though. Nobody wants their spot to be taken on the field but I think it was a reward for the fans. They came out early; they wanted to see the big presentation and we got on them early tonight. But in this league it’s very difficult to dominated a team for 90 minutes, especially a team like that where they’re going to have a good amount of the ball when they play a 4-5-1 or maybe a switch to a 3-5-2 in the second half a little bit so they’re going to have bouts with the ball but the icing on the cake with the goal at the end kind of completed the night. Forward OBAFEMI MARTINSOn adjustment with Dempsey: Dempsey’s a good player so he’s going to be good for me and Eddie and Lamar as well and the other players because we need good players on the team. He’s welcome and I hope he’s going to do well here.