Expect to hear ‘it was only one game’ a lot this week, because all the criticism of Clint Dempsey isn’t going to die down overnight. Yet with a hat trick in Portland — exactly the type of performance we’re used to seeing from an in-form “Deuce” — Dempsey did more than stumble onto a few goals. He found his old self. Considering that self has been slowly resurfacing since his return from Fulham, this afternoon’s performance represents the culmination of a long comeback.
Not that Dempsey sees it that way. After his three-goal performance in Seattle’s 4-4 draw in Portland, Dempsey was his normal, even keel self. If a monkey had just jumped off his back, it had also quickly scurried out of the room. There was no evidence that the Seattle star had just finished a breakout performance.
Here’s the U.S. captain, in his own words.
“I’m not really trying to make a statement.”
On what his performance, coming off a two-match suspension, meant:
“I’m not really trying to make a statement. I’m just trying to enjoy playing my ball here with the Seattle Sounders.
“The important thing is that the team does well. It’s about the team … Our goal is to try to get to MLS Cup. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
“A little sweeter against your rivals.”
More thoughts on his hat trick:
“It always feels good to score goals – a little bit sweeter against your rivals. At the same time, it more important thing is points. We got a point today, and we need to make sure that we win our games at home, we make it a fortress, and that we’re getting those three points that we need. We need to make sure that we push up the table, [because] we have the quality in our side. That’s where we should be.”
“I’ll get him a soda pop.”
On taking the late penalty, when it originally appeared midfielder Gonzalo Pineda would take the shot.
“He was feeling confident to take it. I was feeling confident to take it. Also, scoring two goals in the game, I was feeling I was in a little bit of a rhythm. Credit to him for giving me the opportunity to go with that rhythm and build upon that confidence and to get that hat trick. Maybe after the game, I’ll get him a soda pop.”
“It was important for me to go on loan.”
On how he’s feeling, overall:
“I feel good. It was important for me to go on loan and get my body right, get my fitness level up. Coming back into MLS, I feel like I’ve been able to contirbute in a positive way, and also with the national team, I felt like I was able to put in a good 90.
“I felt that goal that we (the U.S.) created on the third goal that they called offsides was a good goal, was onsides, and it should have counted.
“But we’re happy with the point today when it looked like we weren’t going to have anything. It’s about moving forward.”
“I was a little bit tired.”
On whether there was a chance he wouldn’t start, coming off a mid-week game with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“I always like to play. It’s always a tough call, when you do travel a lot. It was only three hours, but if today’s game had been on the east coast, I think it would have been a difficult game to try and start, because if you look at some of the players’ history, especially Seattle because of the long flights, [players] come into the games, sometimes they happen to pick up injuries.
“But for me, I was feeling good, and I wanted to go as long as I can. Sigi told me before the game ‘if you can go 60, give us 60.’ He felt it’d be better to do that then come off the bench. I agreed with him.
“At the end of the day we were able to get the point, but I was a little bit tired. Now i’m excited about getting a full week with the team in training and into the next game.”
“That point today felt like more than a point … It felt like a win.”
On the importance of the comeback and the result:
“(We) had a mountain to climb to get back into the game., but credit to our team. We showed a lot of character fighting to get a point away from home against our rivals, an important point. I think it’s a build block and somehting that will give us a boost going into the next game.”
“It says that we don’y give up. We keep fighting until the end. I think we’ve always showed that, even the last playoff game here when we were down by three goals. We never give up. We keep fighting, keep pushing.
“That point today felt like more than a point. It felt like a win. It’s kind of a momentum building going into next week.”