TUKWILA, Wash. — Clint Dempsey knows a good rivalry. He played in two of England’s biggest when Fulham would face Chelsea and later when Tottenham Hotspur would take on Arsenal.
He’ll get a taste of the biggest soccer rivalry in the states on Sunday night.
“Those games are exciting,” Dempsey said. “It’s little victories that you get during the season that sometimes can turn a season around.”
Not that a match between Seattle and Portland needed any more electricity, but the clash between the heated Northwest rivals will get an added jolt when Dempsey is expected to make his home debut before a crowd that will probably top 67,000.
Just over two weeks ago, Dempsey was introduced to a roaring crowd as Seattle’s newest designated player before a home match against FC Dallas, completing a transfer from Tottenham back to Major League Soccer.
If Dempsey was taken aback by that initial reception when he was unveiled at midfield by Seattle’s ownership, Sunday night might be a bit overwhelming.
If the Sounders can top the 67,000 mark, it would represent the second-largest regular season crowd in MLS history.
“The game versus Dallas where the presentation was, that was incredible. That was like a movie,” Dempsey said Wednesday. “So I can’t even imagine when the whole stadium is completely packed and they are behind us. We’ll feed off that energy and do everything we can to make sure they go home happy.”
Dempsey is still adjusting to his move back across the Atlantic to rejoin MLS. He was in the beginning stages of preseason training with Tottenham when the wheels began turning on the deal that brought him to Seattle.
He played about 60 minutes in his first match with Seattle, a victory at Toronto, then went the whole way in a 3-1 loss at Houston last weekend. Dempsey has yet to record a goal or assist in his two games, despite creating a number of chances.