US team’s gain could be huge loss for Sounders

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comOctober 4, 2013 

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson, right, has been a productive player for U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann, left. And with World Cup qualifiers ahead, Johnson likely will get the call again.

REED HOFFMANN/AP FILE 2012

Over the next nine days, Seattle Sounders FC faces three Major League Soccer games that will be crucial to their hopes for the Supporters’ Shield, Western Conference title and best possible playoff seeding.

Meanwhile, over the next two weeks, the United States national team has two qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – for which the U.S. has already qualified.

Still, national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann says the needs of his team come first.

“I see the MLS schedule, but it makes no difference to us,” he told media in Utah this week. “This is World Cup qualifiers. We will call up who we need to call up.”

That could mean Seattle starters Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans, who have played key roles with the U.S. team this qualifying season, will be called away after the Sounders’ road match against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

“Every coach is worried about their team,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said Thursday. “I’ve got to be worried about my team, not his. It’s just a matter of he’s got to do what he thinks is best for his team. … You’re faced with your job, and so you have to do what you have to do.”

Saturday or early next week, U.S. Soccer is expected to announce the players who will be called in for U.S. games against Jamaica on Oct. 11 and at Panama on Oct. 15.

Any Sounders called for those games likely would miss league matches against Vancouver on Wednesday and at Portland on Oct. 13.

Such conflicts between club and country do not happen in most other countries, where the domestic leagues do not schedule games in conflict with international competition dates.

Schmid said that is what MLS might need to change.

“Obviously, the European players, when they come in, they don’t miss any league games or anything significant because their leagues are in hiatus for those World Cup qualifying dates,” he said. “And it’d be nice if we were in that position. It’s better for our fans; it’s more respectful for our fans.”

Dempsey may not be available even if Klinsmann wants him. The U.S. team captain and Sounders designated player was limited in practice again Thursday while recovering from a hamstring injury, and his availability has not been determined.

“I haven’t had any clarification on what’s going on,” Dempsey said this week. “Right now I’m just trying to get back (to) being able to be fully fit and play – wherever that may be.”

Meanwhile, midfielder/defender Evans is healthy again after missing the past two World Cup qualifiers because of a calf injury. He said he doesn’t know if that absence makes him more or less likely to be called this time.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I feel the same as I did prior to being injured. So … I hope I wouldn’t be (out of) the mix for performance – it would be because of injury. We’ll see in the next couple of days what happens, but right now the focus is Saturday for sure.”

ADDED TIME

Schmid said central defender Djimi Traore (hamstring) will be held out of the Colorado game. He also indicated that left back Leo Gonzalez (hip) is doubtful, and reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (flu) is questionable. … The Sounders return to local practice Friday morning before their afternoon flight to Colorado.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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