Clint Dempsey

Sounders organization ready for World Cup with numerous ties to tournaments past and present

Every four years, the world's sporting attention shifts to one location for the FIFA World Cup. In a melting pot of world cultures like the United States of America, national pride is pertinent on city streets whether you are from Brazil, Croatia, Nigeria or right here in the U.S.

This year, the city of Seattle has a different perspective on the World Cup, as 20-year-old Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin suits up for the U.S. National Team alongside Sounders teammate Clint Dempsey, who has been in Seattle less than a year but has already become an iconic figure in a city that loves its sports stars.

That civic and club pride is ubiquitous on the streets as fans don their Rave Green and their Red, White and Blue in support of club and country for the two Sounders FC stars that are in Brazil preparing for the biggest games of their lives.
In previous years, Seattle could look to the World Cup with pride as local products Chris Henderson, Kasey Keller and Marcus Hahnemann represented the U.S. National Team.

This is different though. Not only is there a local product on the team in Yedlin, but Yedlin and Dempsey go to the biggest stage representing the local club. When commentators talk about those two – and they will talk plenty about Dempsey if things are going well for the U.S. – they will be talking about "Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey" and fans can beam with pride in a way they have never been able to before.

In 2010, Sounders FC fans could watch Blaise Nkufo playing with Switzerland, as Seattle had announced his signing well before the World Cup and he would join the team shortly thereafter. What fans didn't know at the time was that Seattle was also in talks with Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez and once he completed a run to the quarterfinals, he joined the Sounders, where he would stay for two years before a trade to the Chicago Fire.

Henderson, who is now the Sporting Director with Sounders FC, didn't rule out a similar move this year.

"It's exciting with the summer window opening. I know last World Cup we were really busy with new players coming in, but we're always looking," Henderson said. "Players are coming to us, we're keeping our eye on some guys and we'll see what happens with the summer window, but for next year too, we've got to look forward for that."

Seattle isn't alone in watching its club players on the World Cup stage.

There are 22 MLS players from 13 clubs on World Cup rosters, more than any other year in league history. That includes 10 players with the U.S., four with Honduras and three with Costa Rica, but with the addition of David Villa with New York City FC and Julio Cesar with Toronto FC, there are also players with some of the favorites to win the tournament in Spain and Brazil.

Sounders FC has had 12 players with World Cup experience either before, during or after their time with Seattle.

Those include current players Leo Gonzalez, Marcus Hahnemann, Obafemi Martins, Gonzalo Pineda, Dempsey and Yedlin, and former players Fernandez, Eddie Johnson, Keller, Freddie Ljungberg, Mario Martinez and Nkufo.

Three players with the Sounders in the USL from 1994-2008 also went on to play in World Cups – Hahnemann, Brian Ching and Herculez Gomez.

During the NASL era from 1974-1983, there were a slew of players who previously had played in World Cups, but none greater than Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore. Their time with Seattle may have been short, but Hurst and Moore brought with them the prestige of a World Cup championship, which they won together in 1966. Hurst was the last player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final that year when he scored three goals against West Germany and Moore was the captain in 1966 and 1970.

In addition, Joe Corrigan played in the 1982 World Cup with England, Tommy Hutchinson played in 1974 for Scotland and Ian Bridge played in 1986 for Canada.

However, 2014 will be remembered as the first year that an active player for the Sounders was on a World Cup roster – and Seattle has two.