Clint Dempsey returned to Sounders training today and then met with the media for about 15 minutes. Here’s the transcript:
On how how he feels: Nose is good, I can breathe now. A little crooked … good thing I’m married. … Glad to be back and excited about being back again. I just want to say how great the guys have done since me and DeAndre have gone. We just want to get back on the team and try to keep that going. … … I’ve only been out for a week, so I would still think that I would be in good shape. I was able to come out today, get some good touches, and it just feels good to be back. I get another session tomorrow, and I feel I’ll be ready to go. … It’s up to the coaching staff, but I’m back, I want to play. Anytime you can play in front of the fans that we have, and play against our rivals, in terms of the importance of the game, and 67,000 fans in there, you want to be a part of that. Hopefully I get to play a part.
On USA going out in round of 16: It’s good because this is two World Cups in a row that we’ve been able to advance out of the group and get to the knockout stages. But still it hurts to go out because you want to keep going and going as far as possible because you never know how many World Cups you can be a part of, and you want to be able to do something special and get on a good run. But we fought hard, we showed a lot of character and we just came up a little bit short.
On needing time to physically and emotionally recharge: It does (take a while) because there was just so much travel involved and so much work on the field and on tape, and just non-stop being around the game from the camp to the traveling for the sending off games for the travel that we experienced in Brazil, the games, the media, the focus. It begins to be a lot because there is a lot of pressure. You want to continue the growth of the game and the sport, you want to keep pushing the game in the right direction in the States, and you feel that responsibility as a player. After the World Cup it was good of the coaching staff and the ownership to give me a little bit of a break, which I needed, and now I’m recharged and I’m ready to go.
On huge crowd for return Sunday: I think it is exciting. It’s not too much of a dropoff in terms of that excitement we experienced during the World Cup. … It’s just about making sure that you manage that you’re able to produce and to help the team in any way possible. … The support that we have here, you can’t replicate it I don’t think anywhere else in the States because of the numbers that we get to our games is something that’s special. But there are other passionate fans that are with the different teams, but in terms of numbers and support that we get here is amazing and tough to beat.
On his time away: To be honest with you I got away from the game. It’s tough to watch the other teams still being in the competition. You’re jealous because you still want to be a part of things. But I was texting with different friends and my family about what the scores were. So I was still involved, but just not watching the games on TV. It was good to get a little bit of down time and not having to travel so much for a little bit and get back doing some fishing.
On Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics in Cup: I think we were well prepared as a team to do well, and we did do well. A lot of people outside kind of didn’t believe in us. We believed in ourselves. I think it hurt us when Jozie got the injury. We had to change some things around in terms of me being the target striker. … But still, I thought we were able to play well and get the job done. At the end of the day, we just came up a little bit short against Belgium.
On his best World Cup memory: There were three things. Being able to be in a third World Cup. From a personal standpoint being able to score in three consecutive World Cups, being the first American to do that. And then being able to advance out of the group after the Germany game, knowing that we got out of a group that was difficult and a lot of people counted us out and we were able to prove other people wrong but also prove ourselves right because we believed in ourselves. So those are three big memories I’ll take away from that tournament.
On the meaning of becoming the first USA player to score in three World Cups: To me it was real special because I never knew if I was going to play in one World Cup. I remember as a kid going to bed, that’s what I would pray about and dream about and hope that one day I could do that. And being able to relive that dream three times and being the captain of the national team during a World Cup and in one of the most difficult groups, being able to be a part of that is special. So I’ve been blessed in terms of my international career, but also in terms of my club career, being able to play professionally, provide for my family, and like this weekend being able to play in front of 67,000 fans at a home game is pretty exciting.
Thoughts of scoring in a fourth World Cup: That’s a little bit a ways to think about. But I do want to go on playing with the national team as long as possible. I am looking forward to trying to push and be a part of Copa America for sure. If I’m also to still play at a high level when I perform, then yes, you try to be one of those players able to play at the international level for a long time. But you have to continue to perform. It’s not about saying, ‘OK, I want to do it’ and it’s going to happen. It’s about putting in the work and hopefully I can stay sharp and productive enough that I can keep getting called in.