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August 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Thursday notes: Clint Dempsey ready to start

Seattle Sounders FC LogoI’m actually heading out to Houston this afternoon, so I’ll have to offer just a few quick notes from Thursday’s practice before my flight.

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— New signing Clint Dempsey could be in line for an expanded role in his return to his home state for Saturday’s 6 p.m. road game against the Dynamo. “I think he’s ready to start,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s tough in the heat, in the humidity, but he’s sort of used to that. He grew up in Texas. It’s just a question of how many minutes. I think he’s a smart enough player. He knows how to manage his minutes.”

— Forward Obafemi Martins wasn’t able to practice due to the sprained ankle, but Schmid hadn’t completely ruled him out yet by the time he spoke with reporters. “I’m actually on my way to talk to him now and see how he is,” Schmid said.  “There’s a chance that he travels, we’ll see. We’d rather not push him if the ankle is bothering him now. If it needs another few days, we might do that and hopefully he’ll be 100-percent healthy the week after.”

— Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning got through the week of practice and looks to be in line to reclaim his starting job.

— Here was Schmid’s assessment of the Sounders involvement in the USMNT’s 4-3 comeback win against Bosnia-Herzegovina: “I thought it was good. I thought (Brad) Evans did well, did what he had to do. I know the U.S. was a little disappointed in the first half obviously with the result. Eddie (Johnson) started the goal scoring. It was a good ball from (Michael) Bradley, a good touch from (Jozy) Altidore, but someone has to be there to fnish it. Again, like I said yesterday, I think we can be proud of the fact that obviously (U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann) felt it was important enough to have two of our players there.”

— Evans is set to arrive in Houston tonight, and even though USMNT players fly first class, Schmid said they’d have to wait and see what kind of role he could play Saturday against the Dynamo. It’s a short turnaround and a lot of travel.

— Johnson will fly back to Seattle since he’s suspended due to yellow-card accumulation. I asked Schmid his opinion of the caution in question from referee Mark Geiger: “I thought it was a harsh call. I think if Eddie got a yellow card for that than Bobby Convey could’ve got a yellow card for jumping over (Osvaldo) Alonso in the second half. I think in both cases they were fouls and maybe the attacking player embellished it a little bit. He called it the way it is. You can’t appeal yellow cards, so there’s nothing we can do.”

— Schmid seemed happy with the progress of rookie Eriq Zavaleta, who has been training for a forward for the past few months. “I think the stint down in San Antonio helped him, helped him with his confidence and playing time,” the coach said. “He continues to grow and get better with it. You’ve just got to continue to watch and learn things. Altidore’s goal with his left foot in the national team game is a goal that Zavaleta can score, he just has to find the ability to roll off the shoulder of the defender and get that quick release. So he continues to work on that, continues to try and improve.”

— Regarding another rookie, Will Bates moved from forward to right back in Sunday’s reserve game at Orlando. “It’s a little bit a need because we’re short back there,” Schmid said of the position change, “but I thought he played very well. I thought he adjusted to it very well.”

— Saturday will mark the Sounders first game at BBVA Compass Stadium and Schmid said he’s only heard good things about the field, atmosphere and such. The team will check out the venue on Friday.

— When it comes to heat and humidity in a Texas summer road game, Schmid said the team won’t talk much about it: “It is what it is. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be humid, it’s just a natural thing, but we have to deal with it. They have to deal with it, but for us for sure we have to deal with it. We’ve got a little bit of humidity today, so it’s good.”

| More in Practice notes, Sounders FC

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