SEATTLE — Sounders FC was prepared for the news Monday, but that doesn’t lessen the blow.
Three of Seattle’s key starters — Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin — have been named to the U.S. national team’s 30-man preliminary World Cup roster, with training camp set to start Wednesday in Palo Alto, Calif.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has until June 2 to name his final squad of 23 for the tournament this summer in Brazil.
The Sounders were the only MLS team to have as many as three players called up, which is particularly impactful as they look to regroup from the worst defeat in franchise history — a shocking 5-0 road blasting Sunday against the New England Revolution.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a big (hole) to fill in terms of the players in your starting 11, but there’s a lot of depth on the team with the Sounders,” Dempsey said on a conference call Monday. “I’m sure that they will be able to do fine if us three are absent. It’s about getting back on the right track after a poor performance.”
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said last week the team’s offseason moves were partly designed around these expected departures, as Dempsey and Evans had been key figures in World Cup qualifying.
Solid veterans like Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett, who have been relegated to reserve roles in these early months, are the likely candidates to shoulder a larger burden, specifically in an attack missing one of the league’s top scorers in Dempsey.
“I think we have it and we’re covered there,” Schmid said last week, “but we’ll have to see how long we’re missing guys for.”
Players who make the final World Cup team could miss between five and seven games. Players cut at the end of training camp still likely will miss at least three games.
Dempsey, the USMNT captain, is considered a lock to travel to Brazil. Evans will be in a tight battle for spots at defender, perhaps the most unsettled position in the federation. Yedlin, a 20-year-old Seattle product, is believed to have work to do with just two international appearances.
Klinsmann discussed Yedlin’s selection in conjunction with another promising youngster, 19-year-old Julian Green on the reserve team of German powerhouse Bayern Munich, calling them “two huge talents.”
“I think it will be interesting to see now how they take that challenge, because obviously they don’t have the experience like other players have,” Klinsmann said.
“If you analyze both players, they have tremendous upside in their development curve going forward. We’ll see ... over the next three weeks if they are ready for a World Cup or not.”
One notable absence from the 30-man roster was D.C. United’s Eddie Johnson, who played for the Sounders in 2012 and 2013. The forward, after a brief lull, had broken back into the national team due to his success in Seattle and played 17 international games last year, tied for the most among Americans.
Klinsmann called it one of the more difficult cuts to make.
Johnson, who has family in Seattle, said in a statement: “While I am disappointed not to have the chance to represent the U.S. men’s national team in Brazil, I respect coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision. I strongly believe in and support my U.S. teammates, and I wish the best for our team and our nation at the World Cup.”