CHESTER, Pa. – Moments after the final whistle blew at PPL Park and the Seattle Sounders claimed their fourth US Open Cup title in franchise history, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid made a beeline for his star player, Clint Dempsey.
"I told him after the game, 'Give me a big hug,'” Schmid said, smiling. “'This is your first trophy, and we’re gonna get a few more.'"
Schmid was aware of one of the more popular talking points amongst fans and pundits alike heading into the cup final: that Dempsey had never succeeded in claiming a title at the club level, coming up short in two MLS Cups during his time with the New England Revolution and a Europa League final in 2010 with English Premier League side Fulham.
On Tuesday evening, Dempsey acknowledged that those losses had been on his mind. But there was little relief in his side’s victory. Still smelling of beer and champagne, the freshly-minted Open Cup champion downplayed the importance of snapping his drought, choosing instead to focus on the road ahead.
"I won two Gold Cup finals and [now] a US Open Cup final,” Dempsey told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve [also] lost two MLS Cup finals and a Confederations Cup final (in 2009). It’s just what happens. You get to finals, and you want to win. I’ll keep on pushing.
"This is my first Open Cup. We’ve got the rest of the season to try and win the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup. This is just one step in what we’re trying to accomplish."
Schmid was quick to mention Dempsey’s winning mentality, as were most of his teammates. Though the trifecta of cup losses may have left a bitter taste in the US national team star’s mouth, those shortcomings weren’t exactly a frequent point of discussion around the Sounders locker room.
"It wasn’t something we directly talked about,” said Schimidt. "I think with any athlete [the desire to win a title is] implied. If they’re not interested in that, then they’re probably not playing at the level Clint is playing at."
Added Sounders captain Brad Evans, "Clint has been a team-first kind of guy since day one. That’s what everybody loves about him. You tell him what to do on the field and he does it he puts his head down and works through the overtime. I can’t say enough about the guy."
With their fourth Open Cup championship sewn up, the Sounders can turn their attention to other tasks at hand: claiming the Supporters' Shield and making a run in the MLS Cup playoffs – and perhaps even becoming the first side in MLS history to complete the “treble,” winning all three domestic titles.
"At the end of the day, it’s all about that people want to win championships and win trophies,” concluded Schmid. "That’s the attitude we have in our locker room and that’s the attitude we’ve always approached the Open Cup with."