SEATTLE — Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid on Saturday dismissed any notion that Fulham’s recent managerial change could signify an early return for Clint Dempsey from his two-month loan deal to the English Premier League club.
Currently stuck at the bottom of the table, Fulham fired manager Rene Muelensteen on Friday and replaced him with Felix Magath. Muelensteen had been hired earlier this season, replacing Martin Jol after just five matches.
"No, it doesn't affect it [the loan] at all,” Schmid told reporters of the manager switch. “You don't know how Felix Magath is going to approach it in this period of time right now with the team.”
Dempsey’s time at Craven Cottage is scheduled to run through the entire month of February. The Sounders Designated Player has appeared in just six of the 11 Fulham matches for which he was eligible and last appeared back on Feb. 4 in the FA Cup elimination to Sheffield United.
But with only one match remaining in Dempsey's loan deal -- Feb. 22 at West Bromwich Albion -- and a seemingly limited role of late, is it possible to see an early return to Seattle? The Sounders don't seem to be pushing for it.
“It is what was agreed to," Schmid said. "So you sort of let it sit unless there is something that comes to the forefront that should change it."
Assuming Dempsey remains at Fulham through the end of the month, he’s unlikely to rejoin the Sounders until after the US national team's international friendly against Ukraine on March 5 if he's called up by manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Sounders are scheduled to play Sporting Kansas City on March 8 in the first match of the 2014 MLS season. That match could be significantly affected by US call-ups if USMNT regulars like Dempsey, Brad Evans (Seattle), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) and Matt Besler (Sporting KC) are named to the travel roster.