New Seattle Sounders FC designated player Clint Dempsey trained with the team for the first time Wednesday, but he wore a familiar number.
Dempsey practiced in a sleeveless No. 2 jersey, while All-Star rookie DeAndre Yedlin, who formerly wore No. 2, wore jersey No. 17.
The issue had been part of what seemed to be a playful Twitter exchange between the players, and on Wednesday, both said everything worked out fine.
“Obviously, when a guy like Clint Dempsey comes in, he’s been No. 2 for most of his life, you’re not going to turn him down a number,” Yedlin said. “I thought it was important that he got that. And No. 17, I wore that in college (at Akron), and it’s (Sounders career goals leader Fredy Montero’s) old number, so it’s quite an honor to wear it. I’m excited. It’s like a rebirth.”
Dempsey usually wears No. 8 with the U.S. national team. However, he goes by the nickname “Deuce” since a Nike ad campaign coined it in 2006. And he took some time at his introductory news conference this week to explain why No. 2 is important to him.
“It all started for me when I was in college (at Furman University),” he said. “It was the only number that was really available because the upperclassmen got all of the more traditional numbers that you would wear based on positions, and then the rest were called scraps. And then when I went to the MLS, I had the opportunity to wear No. 2 or No. 10, and at the time, No. 10 was seen as an unlucky number with the Revolution, so I was like, ‘I don’t want to touch that.’ That’s when I realized that the very first jersey I ever had was a No. 2 jersey, so that’s why it’s something that is special to me. But I guess that when I was a little kid, maybe they gave all of the little runts the No. 2 jersey. That’s why I’ve always tried to continue with the No. 2 my whole life.”
Dempsey called Yedlin “a great kid,” and added: “I’m sure that there will be some type of compensation. I’ll have to take him out for a few meals as well. It was very kind of him to be able to let me have that number, and we’ll work something out.”
Yedlin said Wednesday that “the negotiations have been resolved,” but he left it at that.
Dempsey said his first training session went well, noting, “There’s a lot of quality on this team.” Dempsey said he feels ready to make his Sounders debut Saturday at Toronto FC. Coach Sigi Schmid indicated that likely would happen, although he did not indicate if it would be in a starting or reserve role. Schmid also would not say what position or role he has in mind for Dempsey, except to say that he would be “in the attacking part of the field.” … Schmid also said he expects to choose from his full stable of goalkeepers Saturday, including No. 1 Michael Gspurning, who seems recovered from a forearm injury suffered July 13 at San Jose. … The U.S. men’s national team plays a friendly next Wednesday at Bosnia-Herzegovina. Neither Schmid nor Dempsey sounded sure if national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann plans to call in Dempsey or any other Sounders for that one. “I’ve said to Jurgen, he’s making my job harder,” Schmid said. “(We’re) trying to get into the playoffs, and he keeps grabbing players from me. But it is what it is. I’d rather have players of that quality than not have players of that quality. But there’s certain sacrifices that you have to make along with that. So once they issue their final roster, we’ll know who’s going for sure. But you always have an idea. Jurgen and myself spoke (Wednesday), so I sort of have an idea what’s going on. But we’ll be OK at the end of the day because we have other people who can step in and play.”