HOUSTON – The heat? Could reach 95 degrees Saturday.
The humidity? Brutal.
Well, at least one Sounder will feel at home amid the unforgiving elements of a Texas summer during the 6 p.m. game against the Houston Dynamo, and that’s new addition Clint Dempsey.
Dempsey is a native of Nacogdoches, a small town about 140 miles northeast of Houston, and expects to have about 40 friends and family members in attendance.
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“Anytime you can play in front of family, it’s always nice,” said Dempsey. “Texas is where it all began for me. It gave me the opportunity to play club ball and to accomplish my dreams, so I owe a lot to where I’m from.”
BBVA Compass Stadium will be sold out for the homecoming and what should be Dempsey’s first start for the Sounders.
The 30-year-old Dempsey hardly expects a hero’s welcome, though, saying the reception will probably be mixed.
“I’m sure some people will be happy to see me and some people will be looking forward to booing me,” said Dempsey, who last played here in 2011 with the U.S. national team. “That’s what comes along with it. I think it’s fun.”
Coach Sigi Schmid understands the importance of playing in a home environment. While coaching at UCLA, he promised out-of-state recruits that he would schedule nonconference games near their hometowns if they chose to play for the Bruins.
But more important on Saturday will be Dempsey’s contribution to a suddenly depleted Seattle attack. Leading scorer Obafemi Martins is out with a sprained ankle and Eddie Johnson is serving a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation — both absences stemming from last week’s 2-1 win at Toronto FC.
Playing in Houston has proved no treat in the past as the Sounders are 0-3-1 on the road against the Dynamo, including a season-ending defeat in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals.
That, of course, was before Dempsey, who has been with the team for two weeks and is feeling in better shape and in better form as he gets more comfortable in his surroundings.
“I’ll be looking to impact games more,” he said.
And there’s no place better to start than at home.
• Schmid said both goalkeepers, Michael Gspurning and Marcus Hahnemann, are available but declined to say who would be starting Saturday. Hahnemann has played the past two matches, both wins, as Gspurning has been recovering from a forearm sprain.
• Brad Evans rejoined the team following Wednesday’s game with the U.S. national team. The team will determine Saturday whether the midfielder is ready to start on short rest and long travel from Bosnia.
• Martins (sprained ankle) has left the team to tend to a family matter, he said on Twitter, but is expected to be back when practice resumes Tuesday.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @joshuamayers.