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September 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Catching up with returning USMNT stars Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson

Photo credit: Ricardo Arduengo, AP

Photo credit: Ricardo Arduengo, AP

The Sounders FC duo of Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson returned to practice Thursday and spoke to reporters afterward. Both are expected to play a role in Friday’s home game against Real Salt Lake, but coach Sigi Schmid said that might mean off the bench. 

Here is a transcript of our interview with Dempsey and more from Johnson, who also discussed his “Pay me!” goal celebration, which was covered in an earlier post

*     *     *

CLINT DEMPSEY

(How was the time away with the USMNT?) “It was good. We qualified for the World Cup, which was the main goal. It helps continue the growth of the game in this country, which is good, and now it’s about working hard to make sure we do something when we go to Brazil.”

(Do you feel ready to play tomorrow?) “Yeah, I’ll be ready — whatever capacity … Sigi wants to play me. It was good to come out here today and get some of the cobwebs out from travel. Now it’s about doing the things that are going to make you be as prepared as possible that when you play, or if you play, you can do a good job.”

(Nice to see the Sounders get a couple wins from afar?) “Yeah, it was great. I remember watching some of the games when we were away and rooting the guys on. It was great for Neagle; he got two game-winning goals, which is big. I thought the team played well and climbed the ladder. Now it’s about staying there and making sure that we get as high as possible, make the playoffs and see what happens from there.”

(How is the fitness coming along?) “Yeah, I feel good. I went away with the national team, got a goal and assist in two games. It always feels good to help the team out scoring goals. Yeah, two more 90 minutes under my belt, so I’m feeling good.”

(Does the travel wear on you?) “Yeah, the travel wears on you, but it’s something that everybody has to deal with. You just try to do things that you can to make sure that you’re prepared to go — just try to stay loose, try the ice bath — whatever you can do that’s going to give you an advantage that when you do play that you’re playing at a high level.”

(What was the celebration like in Columbus?) “It was great. It shows the commitment and the passion that the fans have, staying after the game. It’s good to be in the locker room with the boys, because it’s a lot of hard work, a roller coaster. There were times when people were questioning what was going on. I remember being in the Denver camp and drama surrounding us at that point. Then from there we went on a 12-game unbeaten streak, and then we lost to Costa Rica and the questions start to arise again: ‘Can we get the job done?’ I thought the boys showed a lot of character, being able to see it out sooner rather than later with two games in hand, and now it’s about winning the group, hopefully, and finishing on a good note. But yeah, it feels great to celebrate with the boys after such a long haul, because qualifying for the World Cup is never easy.”

(Do you think you’ll be called in for the October qualifiers?) “I don’t know. I don’t know what the situation is, but I know that we’ve qualified. For me personally, I want to be here as much as possible and try to help this team.”

EDDIE JOHNSON

(What was it like scoring the big goal vs. Mexico and qualifying for the World Cup?) “It was good first of all. Anytime you get the chance to wear the American shirt, you want to make the most of it because you never know when that chance might come again. It’s funny because Clint and I both talked about how we both haven’t scored against Mexico, whether it was a friendly or a World Cup qualifier. We were roommates, so that was one of our motivations — to get that monkey off our back. It was a good game. It was everything it was built up to be. We know they’re a fantastic team whose going through a bit of a challenging moment right now within their national, but we knew nothing was going to change as far as their style of play and how they approach games. The first 20 minutes, they were really good. We knew going into the game that they were going to have a lot of the ball, because that’s how they like to play. It was just about picking our moments as far as how we were going to press high up the field. Being dangerous on set pieces is something the coaches talked about, and we practiced on our running in the box — myself, Omar (Gonzalez), Clarence Goodson and Clint — the day before the game. We were very fortunate to score on a set piece.”

(How do you feel?) “I feel good. Got examined and everything, and everything was fine. But most important, it was good to qualify for the World Cup and get that off our backs, so we can relax now. It’s good being back here. The team has been on a fantastic roll. We’ve been keeping up with the way they’ve been playing the last two games. It’s going to be a fun game tomorrow in front of a good crowd. We look forward to helping these guys out who have been doing such a good job these last two games.”

 

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