Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid offered an impassioned defense of Clint Dempsey after practice Thursday, a response after it seems the star has come under fire recently for a less-than-productive two months with Fulham and then Wednesday with the U.S. national team against Ukraine.
Asked if the Sounders are still getting the player they thought they signed in August, Schmid said:
“Nothing has changed with Clint. I think there’s a lot of pressure on him, and I think everybody should back off a little bit and not put so much pressure on him. It’s a situation of he’s a kind of player who wants to perform, he wants to do well, he wants to succeed and obviously the expectations are he has to be a magic man every time he steps on the field. He doesn’t have to be a magic man every time he steps on the field; he has to be Clint Dempsey
“Clint Dempsey can do things that affect the game and impact the game and make plays by playing the way he normally plays. Right now, I think everybody has these super-high expectations and it’s a little bit unfair because he’s been in difficult situations. Coming here without a preseason and jumping into an MLS season in the middle of the year is difficult. Going to a team that’s fighting relegation is difficult, as well. And now he comes back here. I think with time he’ll do well. We’ll get him ready for Jurgen, but more so than anything we’ll have him ready for Seattle.”
Schmid was also asked how he felt Dempsey played against Ukraine on Wednesday.
“I thought his performance was OK,” the coach said. “It was a difficult game for the team. The team looked a little bit disjointed, and it’s also a strange thing when the game is on again off again — ‘Where is the game going to be played? — that type of thing. But for Jurgen, I’m sure for him it answered some question. For Clint, it was I think a difficult game because the team’s possession out of the back wasn’t as it normally is.”
Lastly, Schmid indicated that Dempsey will get some minutes in Saturday’s opener, despite playing full games for Fulham and the USMNT in the past week: “He’ll play a role for us.”