On Wednesday at Starfire, the theme of #DempseyWatch continued as Seattle’s newest signing Clint Dempsey went through his first full training session with the team, quickly fitting in with his new teammates in preparation for Saturday’s match against Toronto FC at BMO Field.
“It felt good to get out and train today and get a good sweat. There’s a lot of quality in this team. I’m just looking forward to getting to know the team better and helping the team do well,” Dempsey said. “I look forward to Toronto.”
While he only has a short period of time to integrate with the team before Saturday, Head Coach Sigi Schmid expects a quick adjustment because of Dempsey’s quality on the field.
“The main thing is that what good players do in games, in critical moments, is they step up and they take charge of the game,” Schmid said. “That’s what we expect from him.”
With Dempsey in the mix – whether it is as a starter or off the bench on Saturday – Seattle also expects to have several other players back in the lineup as well.
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was back in full training this week after missing the previous three matches with a forearm strain. He went through the paces on Tuesday and Wednesday and Schmid was confident that he would be available for Saturday’s match.
“We think we’re going to have the full complement of goalkeepers to pick from for this weekend,” Schmid said.
Meanwhile, Shalrie Joseph rejoined training in full last week on Thursday, but the coaching staff determined that they shouldn’t rush him back into the match against FC Dallas, but rather to push him through another week of training.
The 35-year-old midfielder played perhaps his best game of the season on July 6 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but missed the next four matches because of a calf strain.
Now fit to play, Joseph will provide even more depth for Schmid to utilize on Saturday.
“Certainly he’s a guy who can play and if he’s ready to play, we have to consider him,” he said.
Although he’s as fierce a competitor as they come, Joseph is also displaying patience in his return, looking to find a way to complement Seattle’s current run of success.
“I’m looking forward to a great week of practice and hopefully get in the 18 and then work my way from there,” he said. “It’s been a struggling couple of months and for me I’m just trying to stay positive. Knowing that we’re winning now helps everything.”
With Joseph returning and Steve Zakuani and Alex Caskey making significant progress towards their returns as well, Sounders FC is approaching the best health of the season. With 14 matches remaining on the regular season schedule, the timing is right for a late-season push for the playoffs.