Sounders notes: Seattle looking to extend home unbeaten streak; Dempsey finding form; and more

Seattle Sounders v Toronto FC

By JASON MITCHELL

The Seattle Sounders might be a sixth seed coming off a tough road loss to the Houston Dynamo, but all indications suggest the fifth-year club will pose a formidable opponent for the Portland Timbers in Sunday night’s nationally televised match at CenturyLink Field.

Management expects the stadium to be packed to its 67,000-seat capacity for Clint Dempsey’s home debut, and suffice it to say the team is no slouch in front of large crowds.

Seattle is 7-0-2 when CenturyLink attendance tops 40,000, and outscores opponents 23-8 in the process. The Sounders are also 4-0 in front of crowds larger than 55,000, trouncing visitors by a combined score of 11-1.

Portland lost in Seattle 3-0 in front of 66,452 last season, but Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid knows his team won’t be facing last season’s Portland Timbers this weekend.

“It’s going to be extra special [Sunday] because of the crowd and everything, but also because Portland’s a very, very good team right now and a team that’s ahead of us in the standings,” Schmid told reporters after practice this week. “We haven’t been in that position. For us, the game and the result are very important Sunday.”

Here are some more stories to keep you up to speed on the Seattle Sounders:

DEMPSEY STILL FINDING FORM

Seattle’s offense looks more impressive than ever on paper. But with Dempsey still working his way toward midseason form and still getting to know his teammates, Schmid knows it might be a while until that potential fully translates to the pitch.

“He’s getting there. He’s still trying to get his form,” Schmid said about Seattle’s newest Designated Player. “He’s still a little bit in preseason. He and I talked about that today a little bit. I said I didn’t want him to put too much pressure on himself. He puts pressure on himself enough as it is. I just want him to relax and play, and the goals and assists will come. I think he’s still probably two, three, four games away from getting to the point where I’d say he’s sharp.”

That doesn’t mean Dempsey isn’t impressing.

“He made a move today at practice where I was like, ‘Whoa. That was different. I didn’t expect that,’” Schmid said. “He just beat a guy cleanly.”

GAVIN SIGNING ADDS MIDFIELD DEPTH

On Wednesday the Sounders announced the signing of Blair Gavin, onetime Chivas USA and New England Revolution midfielder. Drafted 10th overall in the 2010 SuperDraft, Gavin made 31 starts in 43 appearances for Chivas before heading to New England during the 2012 season. The Arizona native and former Akron Zip has compiled three goals and five assists in Major League Soccer.

Gavin joins a talented and deep midfield in Seattle that will already be making room for either Dempsey or Eddie Johnson. The Sounders have battled injuries all year, though, and in all likelihood will lose Dempsey, Johnson, and Brad Evans to stretches of national team duty.

“Blair has been training with us for a few weeks and we are very happy to add him to our group,” sporting director Chris Henderson said in a press release. ”He is a thinker on the field and has good technical ability. He has enough MLS experience to help us down the stretch.”

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What do you think? Will Portland snap Seattle’s unbeaten streak? Think Dempsey snags a goal in his debut even if he’s not in midseason form? Will Gavin find a way to contribute in a midfield?

Share your thoughts below.

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39 Responses to Sounders notes: Seattle looking to extend home unbeaten streak; Dempsey finding form; and more

  1. Alex says:

    The last time I saw Blair Gavin was when he was playing with the 4th tier Bradenton team against a brand new team in Naples Florida (the Adrenaline I believe?) in front of a crowd of 150 people… and he didn’t look good. In fact, he was subbed with half an hour left. I fail to see how this is a positive move, but I guess Sigi knows best.

    • JRP says:

      If Sigi knew best the Sounders would have some decent hardware.
      Looking forward to the game. Just wish either team was playing their best. Right now, neither team is playing well.

      • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

        Umm Portland just scored three against Salt Lake City…probably should have won.

        I agree with you on Sigi though, he has to be under pressure right now….a lot of pressure.

      • lassidawg says:

        Clearly you don’t watch the Sounders, because other than last week when they were down 3 key players they have been one of the best teams in the league since the end of the first month.
        Standings when teams haven’t played the same amount of games don’t mean anything.

        • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

          IF you are talking to me about not watching the Sounders, every game I possibly could since 1981…but nice try…only most of 32 years, so close.

          Go the route of you don’t know what you are talking about next time ;-)

          There IS a lot of pressure on him. The fact that they don’t beat/ and imho are outcoached/ against the better teams, especially in the playoffs isn’t unnoticed and it has to be turned around. With the most talent in the league, and some of the best in many postions, he has to get results.

          • ed - houston says:

            yup yup… and if he does not get the results he needs to go

            • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

              Then we can bring Dom back to Seattle where he belongs.

              • chris thebassplayer says:

                Haha, get in line. He’s coming back to the South Bay where he grew up. His dad Hugh Kinnear coached Fremont Celtic and owned one of the best soccer stores in the whole Bay Area…deep roots in the soccer community.

  2. mcm says:

    Timbers are missing their two most valuable players IMO Johnson and Charra. Please tell me the sounders are missing someone too.

    • Brad Evans says:

      The first 11 should be available to play!

      Gspurnator, Yedlin, Traore, Lodi, Gonzalez, the Captain, Honeybadger, Deuce, B-Rad, Martins, and EDog.

      Should be fun!

    • lassidawg says:

      Martins could be out, but otherwise I say welcome to the Sounder season of different line ups.
      I love how the Sounders in some eyes are acting as though they are out of it, as of this moment with wins in the games in hand the Sounders would pass every single team ahead of them. I know it doesn’t mean it will but it could. Also keep in mind one of the games is at home vs Chivas.
      A loss to PT would change that, but a win vaults them up the standings.

  3. SanFran415 says:

    MIght be time to consider that Dempsey could seriously be benched for the upcoming qualfiers. 3-4 weeks to find game form?

    We have our second most difficult qualifier in TWO WEEKS.

    • BFBS says:

      He’ll find a way, as usual. How often did Dempsey fail to deliver in a USMNT jersey?

    • Petro4ever says:

      Doubtful. Costa Rica and Mexico will both have players who are in preseason/early season form. Our European and Mexican-based players will be in the same boat as well. So long as Dempsey is playing games with Sounders he should be fine. Most international games will feature players at the stage where Dempsey is at now, it’s just that Schmid has to contended with MLS having different calendar and what that means for integrating Dempsey into Sounders FC specifically.

      • SanFran415 says:

        Most of their players will have played a half dozen or more full official matches by then–they’ll be in good fitness and form.

        Dempsey isn’t even making his home debut until this weekend–less than 2 weeks before the match and a little more than a week before he’ll be reporting to camp.

        Timetable is not good at all for him to be openly admitting he’s not in form.

        • Petro4ever says:

          Right, his home debut but not his actual debut. He’s played part of 1 game and started another, and even before he left Spurs, he played during their Asian tour. It’s not ideal, but it’s not like he hasn’t been getting *any* game reps.

          If he plays this weekend, that’ll be another step forward, and I don’t think Dempsey 2 weeks from now with 3-4 regular season games and some pre-season is going to be that far behind guys with 7-8 games or so.

          Same thing happened last year when he and Fulham were at an impasse and he (and we) survived.

    • alocksley says:

      No chance of this happening. He will be captain.

    • Travis says:

      Dempsey was in preseason when Sounders bought him, will take a little bit to get into midseason form.

      • SanFran415 says:

        He is STILL in preseason form. “He’s still a little bit in preseason.”

        He’ll have to leave for Costa Rica in a little more than a week’s time and Sigi doesn’t think he’ll even find game form for another 3 or 4 official matches.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Oh my word. We have reached new lows. Dempsey is now the next Landon Donovan “he should be a super sub”

      • SanFran415 says:

        Try reading next time.

        Dempsey. Isn’t. In. Game. Shape.

        Seriously people. It came right from his *$#&*(&$Q# coach’s mouth.

      • Petro4ever says:

        It’s been kind of funny seeing the change in tone on this site ever since Dempsey moved to Sounders. Suddenly, a whole lot of people are talking about how he isn’t a pure striker or winger (which has always been true) and how he supposedly slows the game down and doesn’t make his teammates better (I’ve never seen evidence that either is true). There’s no evidence to suggest his game or athletic ability has changed much in the last 2 years, but suddenly SBI-ers are pointing out the flaws in his game (real or imagined) and talking about benching him (if you really want to feel your brain cells exploding, read the comments on the AJ post from yesterday).

        Dempsey’s the same guy he’s always been — a physical, athletic (but not particularly fast) tweener who positions himself well off the ball and takes a moderate number of chances with it. The only thing that’s changed is the uniform.

        • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

          He will be washed up after he and the Sounders win back to back championships.

  4. Mike E. says:

    Why are people attacking SanFran?

    Sigi says Clint is still not even fit for the season and all of a sudden its unreasonable to assume he might be benched for a game that’s realistically a week of practice like training away?

    • Petro4ever says:

      I’m not reading the responses as attacks. SanFran asked the question and people have answered it, with most of the responses being “no” (or in my case, “unlikely”).

      Again, even if you look at Schmid’s quote above, he’s not saying that Dempsey is starting from scratch fitness-wise, since that wouldn’t be true. Dempsey’s had part of a preseason with Spurs, followed by a small gap, training and 2 games (1 start) with Sounders, and another game coming on Sunday. His Euro and Mexico-based teammates and opponents will be ahead of him fitness-wise, but none of them will be in mid-season form either, so the gap between him and many of the guys he’d be playing with/against in WCQ won’t actually be that big.

      As Seattle’s manager, Schmid’s more worried than the coaching staff for USMNT should be because MLS is much further along in its season than Europe is, so integrating him into Sounders and MLS play midstream will actually be harder — from a fitness/chemistry standpoint — than making it through a pair of international games. Even then, though, 2-4 games isn’t much of a gap for Dempsey to make up, so again, the comments are only sort of newsworthy.

      I made a comment below about commenters being more critical of Dempsey now than they were before the Sounders deal. It’s not directed at SanFran in particular, but it’s based on a general trend I’ve noticed in posts in recent days. In my view, Dempsey has basically been the same player for at least the last 2 seasons — star-quality, but with some limitations. Neither his strengths nor his weaknesses have changed, so it’s a little weird so see a change in the comment trends — the only thing that’s changed is that he left England for MLS and I think fan frustration with that (and maybe Americans’ slight inferiority complex about our soccer scene) is probably what’s driving it.

      • louis z says:

        Your 3rd paragraph have me scratching my head, how can you say is harder to integrate him in MLS than USMNT, at the national level all players should be at their optimum, the margin for error is critical. If anything, he should be able to excel much faster in MLS since he should be much better of a player than his peers.

        • Petro4ever says:

          That’s why I said only from a fitness/chemistry standpoint.

          With USMNT he’s familiar with his teammates and (roughly) the styles of the Costa Rican and Mexican teams. In addition, because both USMNT and its opponents will be drawing at least some players from leagues who are just beginning their seasons now, even if Dempsey’s in pre-season form, he’s not going to be that much less fit than players who are on similar calendars.

          On the other hand, at Sounders, the players are all far enough along in their season to be more familiar with eachother and aren’t just rounding themselves into shape. Adding Dempsey to that mix mid-season and trying to figure out his role with teammates that have been together all season (all while games continue to be played) is going to be difficult.

          It may be that, ultimately, Dempsey’s so much more talented than other MLS players that he fits right in. But I think even if that’s not the case, bringing him National Team training i still probably a more straightforward proposition than getting him up to speed with his club.

          Keep in mind that around this time last year, Dempsey was in an uncertain club situation with Fullham and moved to Tottenham with no pre-season. He still managed to start for the USMNT in September though and score the lone goal in the road Jamaica qualifier. Small sample size, but it at least suggests that where Dempsey is with his club doesn’t necessarily predict where he’ll be with the National Team.

    • Flimflam says:

      because he’s dumb

  5. Bac says:

    I can see the predictions now:

    -If Deuce doesn’t score he’s not ready and JK should sit him against CR
    -If Deuce scores 1 goal and it’s Seattle’s only goal Deuce doesn’t make his teammates better and JK should sit him against CR
    -If Deuce scores but Seattle loses Deuce can’t lead his team to victory and JK should sit him against CR and make Bradley the Captain going forward
    -If Deuce doesn’t complete 95% of his p@$$$es he really doesn’t fit into our scheme because he’s a tweener, not really a forward & not really a midfielder and JK should sit him against CR

    I mean it’s hard to argue with these points considering Iceman is on a a Torrid 5 game scoring streak including 2 penalties and 45 minutes of Natl team play vs. Dempsey and his 7 years in the Premier league and carrying us through qualifying into and through the hex until Jozy found his form….

    What is wrong with some people

  6. Jay Bonds says:

    I can bet there will be more people watching at the stadium than on national television either ESPN or NBC Sports. MLS cannot even get up to a 100K on any ESPN platform and that’s where the league’s highest numbers come from.

  7. Konut says:

    ——————–EJ——————-
    —–Dempsey————-Martins—-
    ———Evans———Rosales——–
    —————–Alonso—————–
    Gonzalez—Traore–Ianni —-Yedlin

    What do you folks think about that formation? I don’t think it’s what will be fielded, but playing Dempsey and Martins in those withdrawn forward/attacking midfield roles could really cause Portland some confusion. I’m not even a real Seattle fan, but I’m definitely looking forward to this game to say the least.