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August 25, 2013 at 11:40 PM

Clint Dempsey: ‘I thought we had more quality and I thought we deserved the win.’

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times

Sounders FC’s Clint Dempsey was a popular guy postgame after making his home debut Sunday in front of 67,385 fans at CenturyLink Field. The designated player was fouled a game-high four times, three in the first 15 minutes. He also had four shots, upping his season total to 13, including one he called a ninja kick.

Here is a full transcript of his interview:

*     *     *

(On making his home debut…) “Yeah, the crowd was awesome. Anytime you can play in front of 67,000 fans, it’s always like a dream come true. When you’re a kid, that’s what you dream about. But yeah, they were behind us the whole way and I think them pushing us helped us get that victory, get those three points. Now it’s about getting on a good run of form, getting the points we need and making the playoffs.”

(On how Seattle-Portland compares to the other derby matches he’s played in…) “It’s up there. It’s physical, it’s reckless challenges, it’s getting frustrated, it’s battling through it, showing character — that’s what you have to have in these types of games. Being able to push yourself to the limit, but not too far — you don’t want to get a red card or stuff like that. I thought the team showed a lot of character, kept a clean sheet, and Eddie does what he does. He comes up in big moments and helps you score. I’m happy with the three points and it’s always good to beat your rivals.”

(On the physicality of the game and getting fouled three times in the first 15 minutes…) “It comes along with it. There is going to be physically play. It’s a man’s game. You just have to keep getting up and try to figure out ways to avoid challenges and try to get good looks, put people through, try to get shots on goal. I’m happy with the way things are going. I feel like I’m getting stronger every game in fitness and my quality of touches, and the looks that I’m getting. I think it’s just a matter of time before it starts falling in the net for me.”

(On if he thought Portland made it a point to be physical with him…) “They’re a team that’s aggressive, but also a team that has quality. They did a good job of moving the ball around and keeping possession. For us, I thought we did a better job in the second half in the way that we moved the ball, the way we kept it in the attacking third, the way that we created chances. We had a lot of corners and we got some set pieces from fouls, and that’s what we ended up scoring on. It’s always going to be like that when you play in derby games where you’re playing against your rivals. Nobody wants to lose; everybody’s going to show that they came to play. At the end of the day, I thought we had more quality and I thought we deserved the win.”

(On if the atmosphere was what he expected from what he’s seen and heard…) “Yeah. From what I’ve seen and heard, yes. The fans were great. It’s awesome to play here, to play in front of 67,000, like I said. It’s what you dream about as a kid. Having their support, it helps you. They’re the 12th man. They help us keep going, stay confident, keep pushing, and I think that’s what helped us get the goal.”

(On if the atmosphere is comparable to what he’d seen in England…) “I’d say it’s comparable to some things that you see, but at the same time I’d say it’s better. It’s definitely more fans than what I played in front of at Fulham — their stadium didn’t hold that many. That’s why it’s top 30 in the world as far as attendance. Playing in front of 67,000 fans, that’s not something that everybody gets to experience.”

(On his chances and if he had eyes on a scoring home debut…) “Yeah, I tried. I had a little ninja-kick to try to put the ball in, wasn’t able to get there. I had a bicycle that was on. I had a header cleared off the line. I had a shot the ‘keeper made a save for a corner. Had a little bit of a heavy touch in the first half, I would’ve liked to have that back, could have done a little better with that. I had a free kick I would’ve liked to have done better with. All in all, I’m getting good looks, I’m putting people through, just a matter of time before goals and assists start coming. But I’m happy with the touches that I was getting. More importantly I am happy the way the team played and performed in getting three points. I don’t care if I score at all. As long as we keep winning, that’s the most important thing.”

(On if he’s starting to feel more comfortable with the guys…) “Yeah, for sure. You’re getting used to the way they play. You’re getting more training sessions and being able to build that team chemistry. Also my fitness is getting there. I am trying to play catch up. These guys are in midseason form and I’m preseason, so I’m trying to hit the ground running. But I am feeling good, getting stronger every game, and the team has done well. I’ve played in three games, we have two wins and a loss, so hopefully we can keep building upon those wins and make sure we get the points necessary to get to the playoffs.”

(On getting games out of the way, like first game, first start, first home game…) “It’s not about getting games out of the way, it’s about enjoying it. I hope that there were more games. That’s why I’m trying to help this team and trying to get that push for the playoffs. If you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. But I am enjoying being in the games I’ve been a part of, and I always look forward to the next game. The most important game is the one that’s coming up and making sure you get the right points.”

(On playing with national team members Johnson and Evans…) “Yeah, I would say them, Shalrie Joseph, Marcus Hahnemann, those are all guys I’ve played with before. I’ve played with Alonso, he’s run enough for two people, Djimi Traore, who has had a great career, Obafemi Martins — I mean I can just name the whole team, really. It’s good to play with players you’ve played with before. It’s made it an easy transition coming into the team because I haven’t felt like an outsider. I have been able to joke around from the get-go, so it’s great to be playing here and great to play with guys you’ve played with before.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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