Sounders FC’s Clint Dempsey has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but he’s been able to return to practice — at least in a limited fashion — and spoke with reporters after Tuesday’s session.
Here is a transcript:
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(How are you feeling and what do you make of your chances of playing this weekend?) “Let’s see how it goes but, yeah, feeling good, feeling strong. Every day is a progression in training, and I’m just going to join in more and more each day. So yeah, I’m excited about getting back to fitness and hopefully playing soon.”
(Is there anything you can do while you’re out to try and get something out of your time injured?) “For sure, it’s always difficult to be out, but at the same time what you can do is you can focus on other things. You can get in the gym and work on other aspects of your game, trying to make sure that you’re strong and you’re not breaking down. I’m looking forward to get on the field. It makes you hungrier in helping these guys do well, but they’ve already been doing well in my absence.”
(Does it factor in that Saturday’s game is on grass, not turf?) “No. If I can go, I can go, whether it’s turf, whether it’s grass, whether it’s dirt. It doesn’t matter.”
(Does it feel like you’ve been a Sounder for two months with the time away with the national team and the time injured?) “It’s difficult. I’ve only played in five games, started three of those games. Three of those games were away, only two at home. Yeah, I’d like to be playing in more games. You can’t control the injuries that you get. But at the same time, I’d rather have an injury like I had this last time than something else that keeps me out longer. I’m just going to work in the gym and come back stronger and make sure that when I am coming back, I’m going to be 100 percent and hit the ground running.”
(Any idea what caused the injury? Had it been building up?) “I think it was just the work load. I think it got to be too much with the travel, with all the games, and not really having a full preseason under a team, just kind of jumping right in and hit the ground running as best as you can with players who are already more than halfway into their season. And having a target on your back being a name player coming in, people don’t want you to do well against them, but at the same time they’re going to be excited to do what they can against you. But I just have to keep working hard and make sure I’m looking after my body. I was trying to push through some stuff, and ultimately I think it caused me to take a step backward. Sometimes you have to be a little bit smarter.
(How do you feel about all the pieces on this roster?) “There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle; it’s about getting us on the field and seeing how we’re going to mesh together. We haven’t had an opportunity to have everybody completely fit and see what team we’re going to put out there. That’s been frustrating, probably for the coaches but also the players, as well, because we want to do the best we can do. We win to try and win the Supporters’ Shield, we want to try and win MLS Cup — that’s our focus.”
(Do you know if you’ll be called in for the next round of World Cup qualifying?) “I haven’t had any clarification as to what’s going on. Right now I’m just focused on trying to get back and being able to be fully fit and play, wherever that may be. That’s where my focus is — getting back on the field and playing 100 percent.”
(Do you notice a sense of competition within the team for spots?) “Yeah, I think it’s important to have that. You need people looking over your shoulder and making sure they’re always stepping up their game and bringing their best. At the same time it’s good for the team because there are a lot of games, and people do start to break down. You need to be able to come in and fill their shoes and not skip a beat. So it’s important to have depth, important to have competition, and it’s good that we have that here.”
(What’s it been like having known Eddie Johnson for so long and how did that relationship start?) “Eddie was a player that got on the national-team scene a lot quicker than me, especially at the youth level. He got into the full men’s national team, then I was on of the new guys also that came into the frame a little bit after him. Being young, you kind of have a lot more things in common, and being from the South, we listened to the same music and were going through the same things. It was good to be his roommate. He’s had a good career and had an opportunity to do well here in the States, but also overseas and getting to experience that playing in some of the leagues over there, and doing really well with the full men’s national team — being able to play in World Cups and being able to score goals for this country. It’s been nice to be able to be his roommate a lot of the times during that ride.”
(Did it help you coming into this team?) “Yeah, for sure. You want to play with people that you know, that you have a relationship with. You also have to make new relationship, but as far as being a newcomer coming in to a team, it does help that transition to be easier. It’s been nice being able to play with Shalrie Joseph, Eddie Johnson, Marcus Hahnemann, people who you’ve played with over time.”
(Eddie says you’re a better singer…) “Nah, he’s a way better singer. You have to get him to sing for you, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. It’s a sight to behold.”
(What’s he sing?) “Everything. Get him to sing you some Miguel, some The Weeknd. He’ll serenade you.”