Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer on Clint Dempsey's status, MLS Cup preparation
There Clint Dempsey was, bushy-bearded and bundled up, jogging around the perimeter of the Seattle Sounders grass practice field Tuesday at Starfire Sports.
There Dempsey was, in the brightest orange cleats you’ll see, doing some side work with Sounders assistant athletic trainer Paul Lombardo as a group of mainly reserve players went through game-strategy simulations outdoors.
The 33-year-old Texas native was also at Sounders training Friday — the day before the team boarded a flight for a second-leg playoff match in the MLS Western Conference finals at Colorado.
Was it possible, after being sidelined for nearly 3 1/2 months with an irregular heartbeat, that Dempsey could be in uniform with the Sounders for the MLS Cup on Dec. 10?
Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer put that situation to rest Tuesday after he was asked point-blank if there was a scenario that could see Dempsey’s return.
“No, no, no, no,” said Schmetzer quietly, shaking his head. “We would love to have him ... but no.”
Schmetzer shrugged his shoulders one final time, and the issue was dead.
Dempsey has played in two MLS Cups previously with New England in 2005 and 2006. The Revolution lost both of those title matches.
His last appearance with the Sounders was Aug. 21. He tallied two goals in the team’s 3-1 victory over Portland.
Five days later, it was announced Dempsey had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. A month later, the Sounders ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
“It is a heart. It’s something more serious than an ankle injury,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “For us, we want to get him back on the field. whether it is now or next year. We want to see him healthy. We won’t want to rush things for him. He knows that. He is going to take it as slow as he can.”
Schmetzer did confirm that midfielder Osvaldo Alonso suffered a “slight knee sprain” during the 1-0 win at Colorado. He indicated the veteran should be available for the MLS Cup.
“I expect him to play,” Schmetzer said. “He has waited for this for a long time. I don’t think much could keep him from playing in that game.”
Forward Jordan Morris (leg) did some outdoor activity with a wrap. Schmetzer said he had a big gash on his leg “that his dad (Dr. Michael Morris) fixed up.”
Besides Dempsey, the other three Sounders who have played in MLS Cups are forward Herculez Gomez (won it in 2005 with Los Angeles) and defenders Chad Marshall and Brad Evans (won it in 2008 with Columbus). “I’ve tried to tell myself, ‘What can I say to the guys that will help them be calm, or try and let them enjoy the ride?’ But ... everything has been steady in this locker room, so it hasn’t been brought up,” Evans said. ... The team did not watch the Toronto-Montreal Eastern Conference final match Wednesday together. Roldan watched it at Morris’ house. Schmetzer went home to cheer on Montreal from his living room. “Yes, we’d love to host,” Schmetzer said. ... Alan Kelly has been named the head referee for the MLS Cup. The 41-year-old has been ranked as one of the best officials to come out of Ireland. He is in his third season in the MLS.