Clint Dempsey grimaces after suffering a shoulder injury in Portland
Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers

Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey: Diego Chara's foul "smart," but a card should have been given

TUKWILA, Wash. — Several days after suffering a shoulder sprain on a tackle that did not draw a yellow card, Clint Dempsey called the play in MLS more “reckless” than the Premier League and blamed that mostly on the way the game is refereed.

Dempsey actually called Diego Chara’s 12th-minute tackle, in Seattle's 1-0 loss Sunday to the Portland Timbers, a “smart” foul but was disappointed that no card was issued.

“I think the refs need to do a better job of when people make those kinds of tackles,” Dempsey told reporters at training. “It’s on the counterattack, it is stopping the attack and most of the times those are situations where you get the yellow card.

"When you start reffing in that way, it changes the way people play. They aren’t going to be as reckless, they are going to be more controlled and they have to be more careful when they go to ground and the fouls that they commit. That’s how I look at it.

“But it wasn’t a bad tackle, I think it was a smart one. I also think that’s it’s a tackle that you should be punished for a little bit. You are on a counterattack and you’re trying to promote attacking soccer because that’s what the fans want to see.”

Dempsey was back out at training on Wednesday, but was somewhat limited as the Sounders wanted to keep him from absorbing contact.

Although X-rays did not reveal any breaks, Dempsey said that he’s still in a fair amount of pain. His ability to play in Saturday’s match at FC Dallas (2:30 pm ET; NBC) will depend largely on his pain tolerance.

The US national team captain's willingness to play through pain is what allowed him to play an additional 65 minutes after suffering the injury, but he admitted that he was far from his best while doing so.

“As long as you can deal with the pain and play, and can still play at a good level, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “If you’re out there and you can’t do the things you normally do, and you’re not impacting the game, it doesn’t make much sense to play. You have to see where that is.

“Maybe in the Portland game I should have come out earlier. The fact that I was out already for a few games with the hamstring, I didn’t want to go out. I wanted to keep playing. But I wasn’t able to impact the game how I wanted to. It was limiting me to what I wanted to do.”

Dempsey, as well as injured forwards Eddie Johnson (hamstring) and Obafemi Martins (groin), was deemed questionable for Saturday’s game at Toyota Stadium. The Sounders also held out hope that Brad Evans, who will return to the team in Dallas on Friday from international duty, would be able to start after only playing 56 minutes for the United States in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Panama.

“[Evans] doesn't need a long bit of training,” head coach Schmid said. “He's been with us enough. It’s just a matter of how he feels after the game physically.”