Three weeks after being introduced as the newest Sounders FC Designated Player at CenturyLink Field, Clint Dempsey made his home debut on Sunday in front of a record crowd of 67,385 in Seattle’s 1-nil win over the rival Portland Timbers.
“The crowd was awesome,” Dempsey said. “Anytime you play in front of 67,000 fans, it's always like a dream come true.”
Like a true entertainer, Dempsey gave those watching a hearty taste of his skill and competitive spirit.
“There were a couple things he did,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said, shaking his head in astonishment as he recalled those things. “I know there were a couple ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ from the crowd on a couple of moves that he made.”
Dempsey was as colorful in his explanations of his close-calls throughout the match as the opportunities were, themselves.
“I had a little ninja-kick to try to put the ball in, wasn't able to get there. I had a bicycle,” he ticked off on his fingers with a smile as if replaying them all in his head. “I had a header cleared off the line. I had a shot the keeper saved for a corner. I was happy with the touches that I was getting.”
Dempsey ultimately finished the night with four shots and set up another goal-scoring opportunity, but is still looking for his first goal or assist in his return to Major League Soccer.
Now with 236 minutes under his belt with the Rave Green, he is working his way into the team and into fitness, as he was limited in his training opportunities with Tottenham before coming to Seattle in a signing that was announced on August 3.
"I am trying to play catch up. These guys are in midseason form and I'm in preseason, so I'm trying to hit the ground running,” he said. “But I am feeling good, getting stronger every game. Hopefully we can build on those wins and get the points necessary to get to the playoffs.”
From his first touch with Seattle, Dempsey has been a threat to the opposition and, against both Houston and Portland, he suffered four fouls. As is his character, though, Dempsey springs back to his feet, viewing the obstruction as another new challenge.
“It comes along with it. It’s a man’s game. You just have to keep getting up and try to figure out ways to avoid challenges and try to get good looks, try to play people through, try to get shots on goal,” he said. “I feel like I'm getting stronger every game in my fitness and my quality of touches, and the looks that I'm getting. It's only a matter of time before it starts falling in the net for me.”