Considering that he scored a brace on Sunday against the Timbers, Clint Dempsey was in a relatively jovial mood in the locker room after the match. By jovial, I mean that his trademark scowl was mostly hiding away. But after leading the Seattle Sounders to such an emphatic 3-1 win over their rivals, Dempsey was happy to praise his teammates rather than brag about his own role. He even said something I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him say—that the Sounders are "back to everybody having fun" on the pitch.
"The team performed really well, thought it was a really tight first half," Dempsey said. "Once we got the goal it opened things up, they had to press forward and try to get the equalizer."
He called his team’s performance "perfect," aside from the garbage time consolation goal by Fanendo Adi. Speaking specifically what was different between Sunday’s win and the loss that the team had in Portland last month, Dempsey said the team is really enjoying the style of play of holding onto possession in the right areas—which is making them "more dangerous in the attacking third."
He reserved the most praise for Cristian Roldan, who "had a great game, he was involved with every goal tonight, assisted my goal and got the goal from the corner." Dempsey said that Roldan is constantly "growing" as a player this season, providing the team with a diverse skill set that can change games: "[Roldan] gives us more bite to our team, he gives us great chances and breaks up plays and works really hard for the team."
The influence of Stefan Frei was important too, as Dempsey said that when the team knows that a guy like Frei has their back, they feel much more free to push for more goals at the other end. "It gives us confidence to have that extra bit of security, we’re not as nervous."
But Dempsey also said that, more than just any one player, the depth that the Sounders are enjoying pushes every player to improve like Roldan has this season.
"I think this is the most depth we’ve had on our team, and I think it pushes us in training and forces us to be better on the weekend," he said. He mentioned the impending return of Roman Torres and the fine form of Osvaldo Alonso, as well as the training performances of Nelson Valdez, Erik Friberg, Herculez Gomez, and Alvaro Fernandez as being massive for the team’s performances in the last few matches. "Everybody from the back to the front is playing well and putting in good shifts."
Despite scoring two goals, Dempsey doubled down on his humility, saying he was disappointed with himself for not scoring more goals against Portland. "I’m upset with myself for missing the one Jordan played me." He credits the team’s strong creative performance that, despite missing multiple great chances, he still had enough opportunities on the night to score two goals anyway. "Earlier in the season, I wouldn’t have gotten a chance like that all game."
When pressed on his rather provocative gesture towards the Timbers Army at the end of the match, Dempsey chose instead to focus on praising the 50,000+ Sounders fans in the stadium. "I know the fans have been frustrated with us at times this season, a great way to pay them back is a great result against a rival, and to try and play for the playoffs, that’s what this fanbase deserves."