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Sounders Head Into World Cup Break On Top With Two Players On National Team

The Seattle Sounders are on top of the Major League Soccer standings heading into Saturday’s game against the Fire in Chicago. Then they’re off for three weeks while the World Cup is played in Brazil.

Two Sounders players are on the men’s national team, which has taken them away from MLS play recently. But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the Sounders have sufficient depth on their team to handle it.

Several Sounders Shine In Recent Wins

Art says the Sounders are much more cohesive this season, compared to last year's divisiveness. "It's been really interesting to watch this team develop," he said. "They are now the MLS points leader. They're No. 1 in the West. And they've done very, very well in the last few games.

"That includes beating their big rival Real Salt Lake 4-0 last weekend. Real Salt Lake was absent its World Cup players as well, but the domination — it just has never happened in the series between these two teams. So that was a real important point."

Art says the Sounders seem to get a star turn from a different guy each week. The team added some quality depth before the season. He says newcomers Chad Marshall, Chad Barrett and Marco Pappa are "really coming on."

Sounders In International Spotlight

Two Sounders stars are on the U.S. Men's National Team: Clint Dempsey, USMNT captain, and Seattle native DeAndre Yedlin. The World Cup starts next Thursday. The first U.S. game is June 16 against Ghana.

"Having two guys in the tournament is a first for the Sounders," Art said. "Obviously they didn't have this kind of talent in 2010, the previous World Cup. But hopefully for the Sounders they have this problem on a regular basis, where you're having to lose players to the national team."

Yedlin: Hometown Hero

Art says Dempsey's selection to the national team was never in doubt but Yedlin was a bit of a surprise, especially since he was chosen over the more veteran Sounder Brad Evans. But the reason Yedlin is on the team is his speed.

"He's the fastest Sounder and one of the fastest players, really, in the world," Art said.

"I think this is very cool for Seattle soccer fans to finally have a real, genuine local hook to keep their attention. Yedlin is a 21-year-old from O'Dea High School who has come onto the scene very, very fast," Art said.

U.S. Draws 'Group Of Death'

From Yedlin's speed to Dempsey's scoring prowess, the U.S. team needs all the help they can get. They've drawn what's called the Group of Death in the World Cup.

"That's the toughest group in the field," Art said. "There are no slackers in the U.S. draw here. They are going to be playing Ghana first, then Portugal, then Germany. All three are excellent squads and it's going to be very difficult for the U.S. to advance out of group play into the round of 16.

"I think a lot of people who care about U.S. fortunes are hoping for a lot of luck," Art continued. "And at least in Seattle we're going to have a great deal of local rooting interest to see how Dempsey and Yedlin do in the highest stage possible."


You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.