After fishing, healing a broken nose and appearing on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Clint Dempsey is ready to get back on a soccer field.
Dempsey is returning from U.S. men’s national-team duties at the World Cup in Brazil and was given about a week of rest time before returning to Sounders practice Thursday.
“There was just so much travel involved and so much work on the field and on tape and nonstop being around the game,” Dempsey said of his time in Brazil. “It was good of the coaching staff and the ownership to give me a little bit of a break, which I needed. Now I’m recharged and ready to go.”
Before returning to Seattle, Dempsey got to spend plenty of time fishing — one of his favorite pastimes — and less time watching soccer.
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Dempsey said it was difficult to watch other teams still playing after the United States’ Round of 16 loss to Belgium, when he knew the Americans were just as capable of reaching that stage.
“To be honest with you, I got away from the game,” he said. “It’s tough to watch the other teams still be in the competition. You’re jealous because you still want to be a part of things.”
Although the U.S. didn’t make it as far as he had hoped, Dempsey said he’ll remember Brazil as a special piece of his international experience. His goal just 29 seconds into a victory over Ghana was the fastest in U.S. World Cup history, and fifth-fastest for any team. With that goal, Dempsey became the first American to score in three straight World Cups.
Although those accolades eventually came next to an “L” in the Round of 16, it doesn’t diminish their importance to Dempsey.
“For me it’s special because I never knew if I was going to play in one World Cup,” he said. “I remember as a kid, going to bed, that’s what I would pray about and dream about, hope that one day I would be able to do that. Being able to relive that dream three times … that is pretty special.”
Now, it’s back to the daily MLS grind for Dempsey. He returned to practice Thursday in preparation for the Sounders’ match against Portland on Sunday.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid has said over the past week that he expected Dempsey and fellow men’s national team member DeAndre Yedlin to be ready for Sunday’s match. Yedlin played in the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup match against the Timbers on Wednesday until the end of regulation.
Whether Dempsey will play similar minutes is up in the air; Schmid said a decision would be reached on Saturday.
“He looked fine,” Schmid said. “We just told him not to go crazy today and we’ll just see where he’s at at the end of the day.”
Dempsey, who said he could finally “breathe again” after he broke his nose at the World Cup, is just ready to get back out there with the Sounders.
“I want to play,” he said. “In terms of the importance of the game, 67,000 being there, you want to be a part of that.”