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July 4, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on World Cup, DeAndre Yedlin, more

After the U.S. men’s national team lost a heartbreaker to Belgium on Tuesday in the World Cup’s round of 16, the Seattle Sounders will reap some benefits by getting Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin back. But will U.S. soccer see any windfall from the increased excitement surrounding soccer? Sounders coach Sigi Schmid offered his thoughts at practice this week on how MLS can capitalize on more nationwide interest in soccer, what this year’s World Cup performance says about the U.S. team’s progress and more:

* * *

On if this World Cup says anything about the progress of the U.S. national team:

Schmid: “I think you can analyze and analyze and analyze and analyze. Has the U.S. improved? Have they not improved? Okay, they got to the Round of 16 last time, Round of 16 this time. I think the main thing for me is just that more people tuned into watch than ever before. I thought that was a big thing. The second thing is that when people saw our team play, they saw with what kind of dedication and determination and heart our team plays with, and I think that’s a real positive. I think it also showed that anytime we were down in a game, we were able to then – it was almost like we gained some confidence. Okay, we can go forward a little bit more and we played a little bit better at times. Now it’s up to the staff to decide why did that not happen sooner. How do we implement that, and how do we continue to gain confidence? I think it’s a huge plus for American soccer with what the U.S. team did this time by getting into the round of 16, getting out of the group of death, but mainly because of the amount of people that watched it and that could see the character and the grit and the determination of our players.”

On how MLS can capitalize on the World Cup excitement to increase its own audience:

Schmid: “We’d like to. Obviously the best thing that U.S. soccer fans can do are people that have now grown an interest in the sport is to support your MLS teams, to watch it. The games are good, the games are exciting, and you come to our game against Portland. Let’s pack that stadium. We’re getting close but we need to pack it. It’s an atmosphere that’s unique and special and entertaining as well, and they can see these guys up close and personal on a day-to-day basis. Like I said before, if we can get 10 or 15 percent of those people who tuned in for the first time to stay with us, or that have tuned in before but weren’t regulars to become regulars, that’s a huge plus for our sport.”

On if he agrees with ESPN’s ranking of DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey at sixth and seventh on the U.S. national team:

Schmid: “A ranking on what, performance or popularity? Performance is – I’ll give you an example. We have a ranking system for players where all the coaches and all of us rate players after each game. It’s different. It’s different. What one guy has as his top guy is not the guy that the other guy has as his top guy. And we’re all coaches coaching together, working with the same club, and talking to the players every day, so to me, that’s an opinion, so that’s ESPN’s opinion. I don’t know what the ranking is so I don’t know if I’d share that opinion down the line. Everybody looks at the game a little bit differently.”

On how Yedlin will handle his increased popularity after his men’s national team performance:

Schmid: “Hopefully well. It’s difficult.  When you have success like that, all of a sudden there’s a lot of people that come out of the woodwork and are your friends, so I hope he doesn’t look at Facebook too much. He’s been a pretty mature kid. He’s handled things pretty well so far and hopefully he’ll continue to do well with it. He’s had success. It’s success he can build upon. The moment you let it get to your head, the moment you think you’re there, you start going backwards. I think he’s a solid guy and I think he’ll be okay.”

| More in MLS, Sounders FC, World Cup

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