By the time U.S. national-team coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed his roster for Wednesday’s exhibition at Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was no secret Sounders FC’s Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans would be included — Sports Illustrated had reported as much last week.
More anticipated were Klinsmann’s first comments about Clint Dempsey, the U.S. captain, coming back to MLS and joining the Sounders.
“Clint, himself, has set the highest benchmark for himself over the last year,” Klinsmann told the U.S. Soccer website. “He became our captain and he has to keep that benchmark, and he knows that. I told him that over the last two years that he’s got to go for the next level. Obviously, we want the best Clint Dempsey ever, and that’s what we’re going to push him toward as we begin to look toward (the 2014 World Cup). He has set a high standard for himself, and it’s up to us coaches to make sure he keeps that high standard.”
Klinsmann said he’s “thrilled for MLS because you have an outstanding player now hopefully filling more stadiums and getting even more kids and people excited about the game.”
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Dempsey was not included in the U.S. roster for Wednesday’s game, the last tuneup before World Cup qualifying resumes Sept. 6 at Costa Rica. Klinsmann indicated it was in part a favor to the Sounders and also due to the busy week Dempsey has had — not to mention the 30-year-old is still in preseason condition.
The two Sounders included on the squad were the lone representatives from MLS. Johnson has played 12 international games this year, tied with DaMarcus Beasley for most among American players.
The Sounders had a day off from practice Monday, but Dempsey stayed busy with a jampacked media tour on the East Coast.
Dempsey did interviews with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” The Dan Patrick Show, Sports Illustrated, National Public Radio, ESPN, The Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN, the NBC Sports Network and CBS Evening News.
Forward Obafemi Martins suffered a sprained ankle in Saturday’s 2-1 road win at Toronto FC. No timetable has been made available on his recovery.