TUKWILA, Wash. — The chances are there, but where are the goals?
That’s the question that has hounded Clint Dempsey since his return to MLS in early August, but Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid doesn’t appear too concerned about his star forward as the drought carries on.
“I think it’s something we don’t need to worry about,” Schmid told reporters at training on Tuesday. “His goals will come. If he saves all his goals for the playoffs, I’m OK with that, too. I think he’ll get his goals. He wants to do well.
“Anybody who’s used to scoring goals, the pressure builds a little bit,” Schmid added. “But sometimes you just have to let the steam off a little bit, relax and somehow when you least expect it happens for you."
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Part of the reason Schmid is being so patient is that the Sounders have been doing just fine without Dempsey’s scoring contribution. Since Dempsey was first introduced, they've gone 7-1-0 and surged into the Supporters’ Shield lead.
And despite the lack of production, Dempsey has also played reasonably well while still rounding into form. The US national team captain has squeezed off 18 shots and forced opponents into making some tough stops. In the Sounders’ 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake last Friday, for instance, Dempsey probably would have scored if Kyle Beckerman wasn’t able to get his head on a 83rd minute shot (video above).
“I feel like I’ve been playing good,” Dempsey told reporters. “I’m liking the touches I’m getting, the chances I’m creating. I like the style with which I’m playing the game. But I’d like to be scoring goals and getting assists. I think that’s something that will eventually come. That’s something I’ve done with every team I’ve been on. Those are the things that are lacking at the moment.
“They’ll just come when they come,” he added. “All you can do is work hard. That’s all you can control.”
The Sounders return to action on Saturday on the road against the LA Galaxy, a match pitting two of the top teams in the league against one another and Dempsey against his longtime USMNT teammate Landon Donovan. It’s the first time the two have played against one another since Dempsey’s return, a move made at least partly with the purpose of helping Seattle beat teams like the Galaxy on the road to their first MLS Cup title.
But Dempsey – who has scored one goal in five career games against Donovan, including their 2005 MLS Cup matchup – isn’t buying into the hype.
“You play against anybody, it’s not anymore special because it’s one or the other,” Dempsey said. “If you’re playing against people, they’re your opponents. … if it was my mom, it would be the same: I want to win.”