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August 7, 2013 at 12:35 PM

A stop and chat with Clint Dempsey after his first official practice with Sounders FC

dempsey practice

Sounders FC’s new signing Clint Dempsey held his first official practice with the team Wednesday after missing a day out sick. He had trained lightly with a few guys on Sunday before Monday’s press conference.

Here is a transcript of our interview with Dempsey:

*     *     *

(How are you feeling?) “Yeah, feeling better. I had a little bit of a virus, but I’m recovering, so it felt good to get out in training today and get a good sweat. I look forward to Toronto.”

(Any takeaways from your first day?) “It’s my second training but my first day with the whole team. It was good to get in training and work on some things. The level was good. There is a lot of quality on this team. Just looking forward to … helping the team do well.”

(You think you’ll be ready to play some role Saturday?) “Yeah, in some capacity. We’ll have to see what that is. Obviously Sigi is the boss, so he’ll make the decision. All I can do is keep working and try to get as sharp as I can to make sure that I can be effective in games.”

(Any indication if you might get called up by the USMNT for the friendly?) “I don’t know what’s going on at this point. I hadn’t even played in a competitive game. The only two games I’ve played in have been friendlies. I played 60 minutes and 45 in the other but still was able to score a goal, which was good, in preseason with Tottenham. Now I’m here and it’s about getting minutes. I think you’ll know where you stand when you start getting minutes.”

(Despite your experience, what challenges are there joining a team midseason and meshing?) “It’s always difficult when you go to a new team. There’s a little bit of an adjustment period, but at the same time I’m lucky I know a few of the guys here. I’ve played with them over the years or with the national team, so that helps getting more comfortable. Yeah, it’s just about getting in games and making a difference. I think once you’re able to help the team win in some capacity, whether it’s assists or getting goals, I think you start to get on a streak from there. I think that’s the key getting settled in — once I get my first goal or assist.”

(What do you think your role will be?) “Some position in the attacking third, I would think. Like I said, Sigi is the boss and whatever he thinks is going to be best to suit the team, I’m all for it. So we’ll just see what position I play in and try to make a difference when I’m on the field.”

(What did you make of the news that your home debut could be in front of 67,000 fans?) “It’s awesome. That’s what it’s about. You can see the game is really growing here in the States. To play in front of a crowd like that is what you dream about as a little kid when you’re playing pickup in the park and stuff like that. Definitely looking forward to it.”

(Did you ever imagine MLS would get to this point?) “I didn’t know what to think. When I was a young kid coming up in Nacogdoches, soccer really wasn’t popular. The only types of games I saw on TV were international games, where you saw fans that were filling up stadiums. I got a little glimpse of that in 1994 when the World Cup was here, then the MLS, the league started, but it’s a different league than when I left in 2006. There is more quality and the fan base is a lot stronger. Also, you’re seeing more soccer specific stadiums in areas where fans maybe don’t get the numbers, but you still have that atmosphere. It’s great to see.”

(Did artificial turf factor in your decision to come here?) “It didn’t play a big part in my decision. It was more about what team wanted me the most. It was great to come to an area where soccer is so valued and appreciated. You want to come somewhere in a market where you feel like it’s Europe. That’s why some people go to Europe, to get that experience and be around those kinds of atmospheres. That played a big role in me wanting to come here. Watching some of the games, you can still that they can still play with a lot of quality and still play good soccer. I just look forward to getting on it and adjusting and see what that surface.”

(Do you feel prepared for all the attention you’re going to get back here in MLS?) “It’s what you deal with when you’re in Europe. The teams are under a microscope really, and every week it can change: Everything is looking great or, ‘Oh no, the wheels have fallen off the wagon.’ So you’re used to the ups and downs. You’re used to the rollercoaster of a season. You’re used to being under the microscope and being rated all the time, and whether or not you’re doing a good or bad job. I think being in Europe has prepared me for whatever situation that I’ll face because I’ve fought relegation battles, I’ve played in Europa League finals, played against some of the biggest teams in the world, played in two World Cups, I feel equipped to handle any situation.”

(How have you kept an attachment to your hometown throughout the moves to England and multimillion dollar contracts?) “That’s where you’re from. That’s where I was working hard and had to make things happen. That’s where I had to drive to Dallas, three hours there and three hours back. I have a lot of love from where I come from and I played with a good group of kids growing up. We had a decent high-school team, but it’s where you’re from — it’s your roots — and that’s why I like to get back to it in the offseason and hang out with my family, because to me it keeps me grounded and reminds me of how far I’ve come.”

(Do you remember when the “Deuce” nickname came up now that we’ve seen you secure the No. 2 jersey?) “I think it started coming when Nike wanted me to do a campaign for the World Cup, and I did a track. It was just something silly, just came up with a rap name, so I came up with “Deuce.” It’s something that had significance for me because it’s the very first number I ever had in the game of soccer and it just so happens that it’s a number that I got in college and when I got my first professional contract, so it’s something that stuck with me a little bit.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats


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