The Seattle Sounders would be notably short of their best without forward Clint Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin, just as the Los Angeles Galaxy wouldn’t look the same without goals-leader Robbie Keane.
Those realities led Major League Soccer to schedule a break between its conference semifinal and final rounds, going dark during a two-week window for international play.
For the USA, that window closed Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Ireland in Dublin. The USA played without MLS stars Dempsey, Yedlin and New England midfielders Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen. Dempsey wasn’t called for either of the United States friendlies during the MLS break, while the others were released after the first match last week — a 2-1 loss to Colombia — so that they could spend this week in playoff preparations with their club teams. Ireland did the same with Keane.
“It’s good,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said of Yedlin’s early return this week. “Obviously they have Robbie Keane back as well, so it’s the same for everybody. It’s good that (U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann) allowed those guys … to return after the game. That’s what we thought was going to happen, and that happened.”
Klinsmann didn’t call Dempsey for either game, apparently agreeing with Dempsey’s and the Sounders’ position that time off would be more beneficial than another match.
“I was pretty beat up, pretty tired from all the travel and everything,” Dempsey said after Sounders training Tuesday. “For me it made a big difference, and I’m feeling fresh and looking forward to these two games.”
The Sounders and Galaxy begin the two-legged, aggregate-score Western Conference Championship at 2 p.m. Sunday in Carson, California. The series resolves Nov. 30 in Seattle.
Yedlin, who attended O’Dea High School in Seattle, returned to Sounders training Monday after playing 85 minutes against Colombia on Friday in London.
He declared himself physically and mentally ready to resume the playoff push.
“I recover pretty well from travel,” he said. “I’m young, so I recover pretty well from the games too. I’m feeling good right now: caught up on sleep and everything. So I’m just excited for Sunday. ... Obviously we need a big result down in L.A. That’s a tough place to play, so there’s not a lot you can do but switch your focus. My focus is completely switched and I’m ready.”
While Yedlin and Dempsey were back in the Northwest, the USA-Ireland game marked the national team debut for forward Jordan Morris, a Mercer Island High School and Sounders FC academy graduate now playing at Stanford.
Morris played the final 15 minutes.
“It’s nice to see Jordan Morris get a cap,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “(Morris didn’t play) enough minutes to really rate a performance. He’s always been a kid who’s not afraid of the situation. He’s going to try to take it on, and he’s not going to be nervous or so forth.”
MLS will hold a dispersal draft Wednesday to distribute players from the roster of Chivas USA, which has folded. The Sounders have the 19th pick, and Schmid said the club holds little hope that a beneficial player will be available then. “At 19 you get pretty far down,” he said. “There’s some guys with some pretty high guaranteed numbers that are not necessarily anything that we want to take on. There’s some guys that we like, but we think those guys will probably be gone by the time that we pick. But you never know, that’s why you get on the phone call.” … Schmid said midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and defender Leo Gonzalez (back) were limited Tuesday but still seem on track for Sunday. … Cold weather has caused the Sounders to shift their local training sessions to afternoons this week. Schmid said the weather also figured into the club’s decision to hold their Friday and Saturday training sessions in Southern California.