Skip to content

So now comes the hard part: Where and how does Seattle play Clint Dempsey?

Aug 6, 2013, 12:44 AM EDT

Colorado Rapids v Seattle Sounders Getty Images

Days before Clint Dempsey was introduced at CenturyLink Field, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was on local KJR radio. Seattle had just opened a Designated Player spot by renegotiating Shalrie Joseph’s contract and with his team sitting outside of the playoffs, Schmid was asked what the team would be looking for in a new Designated Player.

Hoping to “add something significant,” the Sounders would be looking to strengthen their spine. “[D]efinitely somebody in the middle of the field,” Schmid told KJR, though he also told host Dave Mahler about the Dempsey rumors, “there’s really nothing to it. There’s nothing to say.” I’m not sure how much we can trust this guy.

Given what we learned today, the Dempsey deal seemed to come together relatively quickly. At today’s press conference, Adrian Hanauer told a story that stretched back two years, but from real start to end of this move, it was only a couple of weeks. Dempsey’s people made some calls in mid-July. Seattle quickly decided they wanted to do it. The league worked out how to pay for it, and after Dempsey gulped a few times and jumped, and the thing was basically over.

Now comes the hard part: the part where Schmid has to win games. That means finding a quick fit for Dempsey in Seattle’s system (or “a” Seattle system), as any prolonged adjustment period would leave the seventh place Sounders gone come November. With Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson already occupying spots up top, this is not a plug-and-play scenario.

If we’re willing to re-trust the guy a little, Schmid said wants help through the middle, which hints Dempsey’s likely to occupy an attacking midfield spot behind Seattle’s two strikers. With Osvaldo Alonso an obligatory starter at the base of midfield, that only leaves two more spots beyond Seattle’s defense and goalkeeper.

Among the candidates, there are two obvious choices:

  • The respect Schmid has for Brad Evans shouldn’t be underestimated. No matter the talent that Seattle’s acquired since joining Major League Soccer in 2009, a healthy Brad Evans has always been given a chance to contribute. If there are two spots available in midfield, Evan’s versatility and intelligence is sure to claim one.
  • The other selection is just as obvious, at least at the start. There’s a reason Mauro Rosales now wears the armband for the Sounders. Schmid has tremendous respect for what he brings to the team beyond his playmaking, skill on the ball, crossing and set piece delivery. Rosales slots into the other spot.

Getting those pieces to fit will be tricky. Do you go with a diamond in midfield? A line for three behind the strikers, with Evans (left) and Rosales flanking Dempsey, relying on Alonzo to be his typical, equalizing self? Or do you do something more tailored to your players? Perhaps playing Evans slightly left of middle, allow Rosales to play a right wing, and rely on Brad and Clint’s versatility to use and defend that left flank?

Or maybe Schmid takes a page out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s playbook are starts Eddie Johnson wide? With Rosales on the opposite side, the opportunity to cross onto an oncoming Johnson challenging a right back is tantalizing.

There are various ways to make this work, and the challenges go beyond merely putting the pieces together. When playing attacking midfield for the national team, Dempsey is often too easily forced into negative balls, at times leaving the U.S. with huge possession edges and little to show for it. The Kyle Beckermans and Hendry Thomases of the world are sure to take note, and if they’re able to force those wide and backward passes, the team might find itself unduly relying on Alonso’s and Evans’ distribution.

If, however, Schmid can get around that, perhaps utilizing Rosales’s skill set and allowing Dempsey the freedom to perform at his opportunistic best, there’s no reason this move can’t be as big as the rest of MLS fears. We’ll begin to find out Saturday in Toronto whether this is the turning point in Seattle’s season or the 2013 Sounders become the latest example of a talented team that just couldn’t make it work.

Latest Posts
  1. PST Extra: Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:42 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.34.13 AM

    Joe Prince-Wright, Mike Prindiville and Jenna Corrado dig into the transfers of Angel Di Maria and Mario Balotelli to the Premier League.

  2. MLS Weekend Preview: Derbies close weekend kicking off off at Sporting Park

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:42 AM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Montreal Impact Getty Images

    NBCSN games on Friday, Sunday highlight a nine-match weekend in the domestic league.

  3. Leicester City lands coup with Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    esteban_cambiasso Getty Images

    The Nerazzurri icon moves to the East Midlands after 10 years at the San Siro.

  4. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Portland’s Norberto Paparatto receives one-game suspension from MLS

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    norberto_paparatto AP

    An arm to the back of Chad Marshall’s head earns the Timber’s center back a weekend off.

  5. Kei Kamara returning the MLS? Regardless, his time’s done at Middlesbrough

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Kamara head shot

    Columbus, Sporting, Vancouver connected with a possible return.

  6. Lessons from 2010 say U.S. squad as much about opportunity, circumstances as youth

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    jurgen_klinsmann

    In 2010, a series of young Americans looked prime for breakthroughs. Their experience reminds up: Four years is a long way off.

  7. Premier League Power Rankings: Familiar faces jostle for the top spot – Week 1

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Nacer Chadli AP

    Our first Power Rankings of the 2014-15 season. What do you think?

  8. U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Rubin Rubin

    Rubio Rubin, Joe Gyau, and Emerson Hyndman are among the roster’s most-intriguing prospects for 2018.

  9. VIDEO: PST Extra – Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Jenna, JPW and Prindi break down Di Maria to United, Balotelli to Liverpool and Chelsea’s tough trip to Everton.

  10. Who is Jordan Morris? College player gets US national team call up for friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Source: Pac -12 Source: Pac -12

    A striker from Stanford could become the first collegian in the MLS era to play for the USA. Who is he?

  11. Report: Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid battling to sign Radamel Falcao on loan

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    Four top teams in the hunt for Falcao. Will they cough up the cash for a loan deal?

  12. Plenty of surprises in US national team roster for Czech Republic friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Klinsmann selects Stanford forward, several American youngsters based in Europe for Czech Republic clash.

  13. Analysis: Arsenal, Manchester City handed tough Champions League draw

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-BORUSSIA-DORTMUND-ARSENAL Getty Images

    Can Arsenal and Man City navigate tough UCL groups, again?

  14. Cristiano Ronaldo wins UEFA’s ‘best player in Europe’ award

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

    Portugal Soccer Champions League Final AP

    Ronaldo named ‘best player in Europe’ for outstanding 2013-14 season.

  15. Full draw: European giants collide as UEFA Champions League groups set

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Q1 and Q2 Qualifying Round Draw Getty Images

    The eight groups are set as the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League will kick off next month.

  16. Angel Di Maria unveiled by Manchester United, van Gaal doesn’t expect ‘miracles’

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    Bv-8S8vCcAAWAVe

    Louis van Gaal delighted, yet realistic, as Di Maria speaks for the first time as a United player.

  17. VIDEO: Donovan shines, LA Galaxy hammer DC United 4-1

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    landon_donovan Getty Images

    Galaxy win third-straight, go second in the West as Donovan continues to shine during elongated swansong.

  18. Transfer needs – Manchester United, Newcastle, QPR, Southampton, Stoke

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    We continue our look at what each PL team needs to do in the final few days of the window.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals