It has been an uneven year for Clint Dempsey, which is probably putting it lightly. He started off with seven goals and four assists in his first 11 matches. He followed it up with the now-infamous "Red Card Wedding" that earned him a three-game ban. That led directly into a four-match absence for the Gold Cup that came in the middle of a period in which he played in just two of the Sounders' 14 matches. The Sounders went 4-10-0 during that time.
Dempsey has now played in four straight and is contributing a goal per match for the year (eight goals and nine assists in 17 appearances), but has not been back to 100 percent. With just three games left in the regular season and the Seattle Sounders facing a massive test on Sunday against the LA Galaxy, Dempsey says he's finally feeling like his old self.
The Sounders forward said GPS data suggests he's covering about 90 percent of the ground he was covering prior to the injury. He also pointed out that while the end result wasn't what he wanted, he was encouraged that he was at least able to make strong runs to put himself in position for good goal-scoring chances.
"I'm happy with my play, it feels good to get into those spots again, to make those runs," Dempsey said following Tuesday's training session. "I really didn't feel I had the legs to make those runs in the San Jose or Vancouver games."
Even without a full-strength Dempsey, the Sounders have still managed to go 4-0-2 over their last six matches against MLS competition. Like Dempsey, the team as a whole appears to be rounding into shape at the most important time.
Aside from Roman Torres (ACL), the closest thing the Sounders have to a serious injury is to Erik Friberg, who apparently got a "kink" in his neck after sleeping wrong.
"We're as healthy as we've been," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. "Even [Andy] Craven is back in the training. We have 28 healthy guys."