May 11, 2014 in Sports

Dempsey returns to the beginning

Sounders star’s first visit to N.E. since joining MLS
Joshua Mayers Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Seattle’s Clint Dempsey is a lock to make the U.S. national team.
(Full-size photo)

Clint Dempsey’s second go-around in MLS makes an important stop this weekend. Call it a homecoming of sorts.

Sounders FC’s road game today against the New England Revolution will mark the first time Dempsey has faced his former team, the one that welcomed him into the league as the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft.

That chapter lasted three seasons, but an amazing run of individual and team success for Dempsey and the talented Revs included winning MLS Rookie of the Year, being named to the MLS Best XI (twice), claiming the Supporters’ Shield, and making two MLS Cup appearances.

It’s time not forgotten, even after all these years.

“It’s always great to go back to where you started,” said Dempsey. “I owe a lot to that organization. They picked me up in the draft and gave me the opportunity to jump-start my career, and playing there allowed me to break into the national team and allowed me to go overseas. I have good memories there. … It’ll be great to go back, but we’ll still be looking to get points.”

One more win for the blistering-hot Sounders would set a franchise record at six in a row and keep Seattle unbeaten on the road.

It would also be a nice sendoff present from Dempsey and Seattle’s other U.S. internationals.

U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be announcing his 30-man preliminary roster for a pre-World Cup training camp Monday.

Dempsey, the USMNT captain, is a lock to make the squad, while midfielder Brad Evans is also expected and defender DeAndre Yedlin is another strong possibility.

While depth stands to be tested in the future, the Sounders could have a first-choice lineup for the first time this season. Injuries have prevented personnel consistency but the return of defender Leo Gonzalez from a hamstring strain could have Seattle at full strength.

Gonzalez was on the bench for Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Dallas, but the team felt the left back wouldn’t have been able to go beyond 45 minutes without risking re-injury.

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