It has been about six weeks since Clint Dempsey last suited up for the Seattle Sounders. That should end one way or another on Saturday, when the Sounders host the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a CenturyLink Field crowd that is expected to exceed 50,000.
"I'm ready to go, whatever role they want to put me in," Dempsey told the assembled media on Friday. "In terms of how many minutes, it doesn't matter. I'm just going to go out there and push, try to help the team win. I'm looking forward toward this push to the end of the year."
What, exactly, that means remains to be seen. Head coach Sigi Schmid was rather non-committal about the role Dempsey would play after his first Sounders training session in at least a month. Dempsey did appear to be training with the first team, an indication there's at least a chance he'll start.
Since Dempsey was famously red-carded on June 17 and subsequently suspended for three league matches, the Sounders have gone 1-6-0 and scored just two goals. They've also gone from leading the Supporters' Shield race to being just three points ahead of seventh-place Real Salt Lake.
That's continued a season-long trend. In 10 games without Dempsey, the Sounders have scored just two goals. In the 12 games he's played, the Sounders have scored 23.
Meanwhile, Dempsey was off enjoying one of the most prolific runs of his international career. In six Gold Cup matches and one friendly, Dempsey scored eight goals, including his first USMNT hat trick. Dempsey most recently played 45 minutes and picked up an assist with the MLS All-Stars in their 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.