Clint Dempsey's scored six times in four games to start the 2014 MLS season. In 2013 he recorded one goal in nine appearances.

Dempsey opened up to the media earlier this week, and noted the challenges he faced last year. They included:

  1. A limited preseason training time with the Sounders
  2. His fitness
  3. The attention and scrutiny he received as a DP
  4. Nagging injuries

Below is the video I captured with Dempsey and head coach Sigi Schmid on what's different this year with Seattle's highest profile designated player

Alan Hinton, long-time Seattle soccer icon and analyst, reviewed the problems with the MLS salary cap. He identified the monetary issues it created between Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey as one of the factors that led to Seattle's disappointing 2013 season.

Dempsey's high-profile and astronomical salary made Johnson a disruptive presence and resulted in his offseason trade to D.C. United.

In the video below, Hinton provided his thoughts on the salary cap and how it led to the internal dysfunction between Johnson and Dempsey.

Alan Hinton is a soccer icon in the Seattle area. He's played in the English Premier League, and was a player/coach with numerous professional leagues in North America.

Hinton provided his opinions on the upcoming Major League Soccer season, the EPL's final standings and a World Cup prediction.

Video/audio I recorded with soccer pundit Alan Hinton, current Seattle Sounders FC players Clint Dempsey and Marcus Hahnemann.

The trio responded to USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's comment about the accountability of US players.

In the videos below, forward Chad Barrett described his last minute game winning tally that defeated the visitors from Sporting Kansas City.

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid and his KC counterpart Peter Vermes shared their thoughts on the dramatic outcome.

DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle's dynamic defender, responded to queries about a move to Europe, his relationship with Eddie Johnson, and Barrett's winner.

Barrett, Schmid and Vermes video/audio

Yedlin audio

Sounders FC broadcasters Ross Fletcher and Taylor Graham along with Don Ruiz (The News Tribune) and Joshua Mayers (Seattle Times) shared their thoughts on last year's disappointing season, newcomers and a fearless 2014 season ending prediction.

The up-and-down 2013 season for the Seattle Sounders FC identified a leadership void. Once keeper Kasey Keller retired after the 2012 campaign, Seattle had no one to step up and fill a glaring gap in the locker room.

Before the start of the 2010 season, there were concerns about Freddie Ljungberg's commitment to the Sounders. Keller confronted the ex-Arsenal midfielder about his comments. They addressed the issue and moved on.

In his time with the Sounders, Keller provided a locker room presence and guidance to deal with Ljungberg and other issues that needed to be dealt with internally.

The 2013 season featured a despondent Eddie Johnson. He created a tense atmosphere and a me-first attitude that resulted in his eventual departure to DC United. Seattle struggled in the last third of the year and exited the playoffs earlier than expected.

Brad Evans

Brad Evans (Photo: John Zielonka)

Midfielder Brad Evans is one of the original Sounders after the club acquired him from Columbus in the 2008 Expansion Draft. He played for current Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid when the two were together when the Crew won the 2008 MLS Cup.

Evans has the presence, credibility and gravitas to provide the Sounders with a true leader that it lacked in 2013. The 28-year-old is also one of the most versatile players on the pitch. Despite playing primarily in the midfield, Schmid has called upon Evans to play up front and as a defender.

Evans elevated his game that he is now a strong contender for a defensive spot in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. In the video below, Evans and Klinsmann shared their thoughts after the mid-June qualifier against Jamaica.

Evans has the right pedigree to be Seattle's captain on and off the pitch in the style of Keller. With the influx of new players after the Sounders cleaned house, he can take over the leadership role and lead the Rave Green to their ultimate goal: the 2014 MLS Cup.

The noted English writer Charles Dickens captured the essence of the Seattle Sounders FC's season in the opening paragraph of his literary classic A Tale of Two Cities . Using Dickens' phrases, let's take a look at how the year played out for the Rave Green.

It was the best of times...

On September 23rd, the Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 to win their fifth match in a row before a raucous home crowd of 55,107. The victory elevated Seattle to take the Supporters Shield lead over Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls by one point with two games in hand.

It was the worst of times...

Seattle ended the regular season with three draws and five losses to finish fourth in the Western Conference standings. They moved on to win the one-game knockout round 2-0 against the Colorado Rapids. In their next playoff matchup against the Portland Timbers, the Sounders were eliminated when they lost 5-3 in the two-game total goals series.

Lamar Neagle

(Lamar Neagle--Photo:Jane Gershovich)

It was the age of wisdom...

Forward Obafemi Martins signed with the Sounders in March. He recorded eight goals and four assists. In 2012, Seattle sent forwards Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal in exchange for Eddie Johnson. Neagle returned to the Sounders in 2013 and matched Martins' goal and assist totals.

It was the age of foolishness...

Seattle acquired midfielder Shalrie Joseph as a designated player. He relinquished the DP slot once Dempsey arrived. Joseph was hurt most of the year. He scored one goal and one assist in eleven games.

"We would have liked to see Shalrie to have been able to give us more and stay healthy," general manager and co-owner Adrian Hanauer said during his season ending media conference call. "Again, that's on me to go back and think through what I could have done differently throughout the year."

Gspurning

(Michael Gspurning--Photo: Jane Gershovich)

It was the epoch of belief...

During August and September five-match winning streak, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning allowed one goal and recorded four shutouts, or ten for the season.

It was the epoch of incredulity...

In the first two October MLS matchups, Gspurning gave up nine goals in the losses to Colorado (5-1) and Vancouver (4-1). Marcus Hahnemann replaced Gspurning in the next two games. He returned to the starting rotation in the last game of the season and rest of the playoffs.

It was the season of Light...

The Sounders announced Dempsey's signing in mid-August before 65,000 fans, making him the league's highest paid player.

It was the season of Darkness...

Dempsey tallied one one goal and one assist in all competitions.

It was the spring of hope...

After a successful return last year from his 2011 leg fracture, midfielder/winger Steve Zakuani was ready to make an impact in 2013 and once again showcase his flashy moves and speed.

It was the winter of despair...

Zakuani underwent hernia surgery in late June. He recorded one assist in eight games.

Eddie Johnson Seattle Sounders

(Eddie Johnson--Photo: Jane Gershovich)

We had everything before us...

Martins, Dempsey, Johnson, Neagle, Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, Gspurning: the MLS Cup appeared to be within Seattle's grasp.

We had nothing before us...

Owners Hanauer and Joe Roth "vote of confidence" made head coach Sigi Schmid's 2014 coaching status tenuous at best. Rumors are rampant that Seattle is shopping leading scorer Johnson to other MLS teams. Dempsey re-injured his calf in preparation for a friendly against Scotland on November 14.

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John Zielonka

John Zielonka is a lifelong fan of soccer. He previously lived in Detroit and attended numerous NASL matches featuring the Detroit Express. John follows the local soccer scene and is the Seattle correspondent for Goal.com, where he writes about the Seattle Sounders and MLS for Goal.com. Internationally, he's viewed matches at the World Cup, Confederation Cup, England's Premier and Championship leagues.



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