Now 355 minutes into his Seattle Sounders FC career, designated player Clint Dempsey is still looking for his first goal or assist.
Over five appearances and three starts, Dempsey has managed 18 shots and put three of them on target. He has suffered 14 fouls and committed two. He has been offside once. But the “goals” and “assists” of his stat sheet still show zeros.
Not Dempsey, apparently.
“They’ll come just when they come,” he said Tuesday. “All you can do is just work hard, and if I’m putting in a good shift every time that I’m out on the field, that’s all I can control. As long as you’re getting chances and creating chances for other people, those are the only ways that those things are going to happen for you, and I feel like I’ve been doing that in games, and it’s just a matter of time.”
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid agrees.
“I think it’s something we don’t need to worry about,” he said. “I think his goals will come. If he saves all of his goals for the playoffs, I’m OK with that, too, because I think he’ll get his goals. He wants to do well, and anybody who’s used to scoring goals, the pressure builds a little bit. But sometimes you’ve just got to let the steam off a little bit, just relax, and sometimes when you least expect it, sometimes it happens for you.”
Dempsey’s next chance will come Saturday when the Sounders visit the Los Angeles Galaxy. Less certain are whether he will play at forward or midfield, and who will surround him.
After the Sounders ran through a training session Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Schmid acknowledged he hasn’t decided how he’s going to arrange his lineup to accommodate Dempsey along with team goals leaders Obafemi Martins (eight), Lamar Neagle (eight) and Eddie Johnson (seven).
Other considerations include the possible return of midfielder Brad Evans from a calf injury, as well as the usual choice of two central defenders from among the quartet of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Zach Scott and Patrick Ianni.
“It’s a good problem to have because you have options,” Schmid said. “The team’s playing well, so obviously there’s going to be disappointment in whomever’s not in that lineup, because there’s a bunch of guys who want to be in that lineup and be starting. But we need everybody. ... So everybody’s got to be on top of their game and working hard. But for sure, on any given game there’s probably going to be one or two disappointed people — or more so.”
Dempsey will not be one of those. He believes he already is contributing, even if it is only in ways that don’t register statistically.
“I feel like I’ve been playing good,” he said. “I’m liking the touches that I’m getting, the chances I’m creating. I like the style with which I’m playing the game. But yeah, I’d like to be scoring goals and getting assists. I think that’s something that will eventually come. I’ve done that with every team that I’ve been on before. But those are the things that are lacking right now.”