Dempsey and Johnson ready to go against Real Salt Lake
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
The American forwards returned from national team duty and are raring to go as the Sounders get set to take on Real Salt Lake on Friday night.
On Tuesday, Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson were instrumental in the magic of “Dos A Cero” as they helped the U.S. National Team to a 2-0 win over Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match in Columbus, Ohio. By Thursday, the duo returned their focus to Sounders FC for another pivotal match, this one coming against Real Salt Lake on Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
Both Dempsey and Johnson played important roles in helping the U.S. clinch a berth in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and with that goal now sealed up in their back pockets, they trained on Thursday with Sounders FC for the only time before facing RSL, where they will undoubtedly be featured players in the ongoing saga between the two MLS clubs.
“They’re ready to go,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ll still figure out what part and what role they’re going to play, but they’ll play a role.”
Johnson scored the first goal for the U.S. and Dempsey added an assist on the second as the USMNT moved to 5-2-1 in the Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying, joining nine other countries around the world to have sealed spots in the tournament finals.
In the match, Dempsey played 90 minutes while Johnson was subbed out in the 75th minute. They both returned to Seattle on Wednesday and trained with the team on Thursday and were both excited at the prospect of playing a part in Seattle’s match with Salt Lake on Friday despite the short time between matches.
“I’ll be ready for whatever capacity that Sigi wants to play me,” Dempsey said. “Now it’s about doing the things that will make you be as prepared as possible so if you do play that you can do a good job.”
Johnson and Dempsey are both key components to Schmid’s plans going forward and will mix in with a team on the rise.
In their absence, Seattle won two matches against Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire to climb to second place in the Western Conference, getting two goals from Lamar Neagle to extend its winning streak to four matches.
“It’s good being back here. The team’s been on a fantastic roll,” Johnson said. “We’re looking forward to helping these guys out that have been doing such a good job these last few games.”
The U.S. duo is riding a wave of momentum themselves, with both players scoring for the national team in its two matches on Friday and Tuesday. The big highlight came after the 2-0 win over Mexico, though. It was the fourth consecutive time the U.S. topped Mexico by that scoreline at Crew Stadium in World Cup qualifying, dating back to 2001.
After the match, the team retreated to the locker room to watch the conclusion of the match between Honduras and Panama, where a 2-2 draw clinched World Cup berths for the U.S. and Costa Rica. With the final whistle in Honduras, the celebration began in Columbus, as the team joined the hundreds of fans that remained at the stadium watching the result on the scoreboard screen.
That result was just one step along the way to Brazil for the U.S. and now the team shifts its attention on the international stage to getting ready for the big show.
“It helps continue the growth of the game in this country, which is good,” Dempsey said. “Now it’s about working hard to make sure that we do something when we go to Brazil.”