Fresh off becoming just the second player to score 40 goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Clint Dempsey was back at training with Sounders FC this week.
Dempsey returned to the club on Wednesday, doing some light jogging that day before participating in his first full training session Friday morning. The technical staff is taking it slow with Dempsey because he just finished training with the National Team for nearly a month.
“January camps are always very difficult because of the workload, and this time, traveling all the way to Chile,” Dempsey said. “But we were able to end on a positive and get a win. And I was able to get back to scoring ways. I left January camp feeling fit and ready for the beginning of the season.”
The USA played a pair of international friendlies, one versus Chile and the other against Panama in Carson, California. Wearing the captain’s armband, Dempsey made his 100th career start in a 3-2 loss to Chile and then scored the second goal of a 2-0 win over Panama. He and Landon Donovan are the only two players to reach 40 international goals for the USA.
Dempsey says he is feeling sharp after the January camp. He looks forward to having a bit more time to train with Sounders FC than he did in 2014, when the veteran forward was on loan for the majority of the preseason. That didn’t stop him from making an immediate impact, however, as Dempsey recorded eight goals and three assists in his first six matches of the regular season.
This time around, Dempsey will spend the remainder of February at the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona. Seattle is scheduled to play four friendlies during its final preseason trip, two of which are guaranteed to be against MLS clubs.
Garth Lagerwey, the team's General Manager and President of Soccer, expects Dempsey to be fully recovered from January camp by the time Sounders FC arrives in Arizona.
“That camp is brutal,” Lagerwey said. “Especially for older players, and especially with the workload that Clint had last year. So I would expect us to be cautious in reintroducing him. …But Clint’s been through plenty of preseasons. We’re not worried about his fitness.”
Dempsey returns for his second full season of playing alongside Obafemi Martins. Last year both forwards recorded double-digit goals and assists, being named MLS All-Stars in the process. The two strikers are among 10 returning starters from last year’s squad.
There are also several new faces, including multiple rookies at the forward position.
“Everybody’s hungry, trying to impress and show they should be in the starting XI,” Dempsey said. “That’s what we’re going to see as we get closer to that first game: everybody pushing harder, and more competition for spots.”