SEATTLE — A lot has changed in the past year. Just how much will be on stark display during Saturday’s game between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field (4:30 pm ET, NBCSN, TSN/RDS2 in Canada).
Five likely World Cup participants will take the field, including two of the US national team's biggest stars: Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. It’s not exactly a first, but even Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid admits the idea of both players facing off in a MLS match seemed unlikely as recently as a year ago.
“But the dynamics of the league have changed and it speaks well of the league that we’re moving forward in that direction,” Schmid told reporters on Friday. “We’ll see how it looks years down the line, and I think we’ll look back at 2013 and Clint’s return and 2014 with Bradley coming back as maybe a time when the league changed its direction and compensation patterns for American players.”
As one of the early benefactors of this new direction, Dempsey is clearly a fan.
“The better players in the league, the better the league is,” the USMNT captain said. “It’s always good to see American players getting good contracts. I’m happy for [Bradley], I’m happy for the league and it just makes the league better."
But Dempsey is also quick to point out that he was not consciously acting as a pioneer of any sorts and is even reluctant to take any amount of credit for Bradley following in his footsteps.
“I was just doing what was best for me and my family at the time,” he said. “What happens because of that, if it has anything good come from it, well that’s great. But I was excited to come back to the States, come back to the league that gave me my start and coming to Seattle where they have some of the best fans in the league.”