Captain America, Clint Dempsey has returned to the Seattle Sounders from the World Cup with teammate DeAndre Yedlin. After the US lost to Belgium to end their World Cup run, the pair will take a little time off before donning the Sounder’s colors. Seattle has won four out of the team’s last six games without the dynamic duo, and would have liked to have both for Saturday’s 1-0 Cascadia Cup loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid has no plans to rush the pair back to action.
Coach Schmid knows that the World Cup is a tiring tournament. The USA played in four games in close to a two-week span, traveling close to 10,000 miles. Combined with the heat and humidity, plus and the physical play, the two national team stars will rest until the July 13 match in Seattle against the Portland Timbers. Dempsey, who played in every game, took a kick to the face in the first game against the Ghana Black Stars. From that point on, the US captain played the rest of the tournament with a broken nose, so the rest will be a welcome breather, even if for just a short time.
Against Portugal, the Sounders duo linked up for Dempsey’s second goal of the tournament, that looked to be a game winner. Yedlin, who had just entered the game, took the ball all the way to the end line. The young Sounder then crossed a pass back towards the goal, where Dempsey collected the ball, after it bounced around a bit, and sent it into the goal for a 2-1 lead that held until Cristiano Ronaldo made a perfect pass that resulted in an equalizing goal for Portugal with time running out. Yedlin impressed the US fans with his speed and passes during the games in Brazil.
Now, with Dempsey and Yedlin back in Seattle from the World Cup, fans have the chance to keep cheering on the national team duo as they make their return to the Sounders. Besides the pair of Sounders, fans across the US will have the opportunity to cheer on Seattle’s US lads along with eight other players as they return to their respective Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs. MLS is counting on the surge of soccer interest that bloomed with the World Cup to shift to the young US league and help with needed growth. This growth is anticipated to also help the US Soccer program too.
Because the British had introduced the world the game of soccer, the United States was hesitant to adopt the new sport. The young country wanted to distance themselves from anything having to do with the monarchy that they had fought so hard against to gain independence from. In the long run, with so many other countries in Europe and the rest of the America’s adopting football, the US fell to a major disadvantage in the game, resulting in the US being considered a joke in the soccer world for many decades. Over the last ten years, soccer in the United States has grown, due to performances by players like Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Kyle Beckerman and Dempsey. Both Donovan and Dempsey returned to the USA after playing in the European premier leagues to join the MLS. What MLS and US Soccer want to see is more of the top US players, as well as top players from outside the US come to America to play professional soccer.
In order to bring in the top players, MLS is counting on the fans who jumped onto the World Cup bandwagon to become fans of the players pro teams. With the projected increase in fans post World Cup, MLS is expecting an increase in sponsorship will follow. Sponsors will bring money to the league and the teams, allowing for teams to offer more enticing contracts to some of the worlds best players. The goal is to take MLS to the same level as the European premier leagues. With a potential for better competition in the MLS, the chance to stop young players like Yedlin from moving to the European leagues and keep them here in the States would be a huge coup for soccer in the USA.
Better players are expected to want to make long-term commitments to the MLS if the money is there, increasing the level of soccer. By elevating the MLS to the same level of play as the Euro leagues, the US National Team would see a growing advantage on the international stage. If US players are facing top players from around the world during the professional season, they should do even better when the World Cup rolls around and become a legitimate threat to win. So why not bring those top players to the US to play instead of US players going overseas or to Mexico and Brazil to play against the best.
Elevating MLS to a premier league level would also elevate the league to the same level in the US as Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL. Until then, Team USA fans will have the chance to continue to cheer for some of the national team players. With Yedlin and Dempsey returning to the Seattle Sounders soon, and other MLS players rejoining their clubs after the World Cup, it is an exciting time to be a fan of American soccer and become part of making the USA a world soccer power.
Commentary by Carl Auer
The Seattle Times
Guardian Liberty Voice – FIFA World Cup Group G
Guardian Liberty Voice – The Time Is Now for Soccer in America