SEATTLE (AP) — The intent was for Clint Dempsey to go 65 or 70 minutes and not push too hard in his return from the World Cup rejoining the Seattle Sounders.
Dempsey didn't want an abbreviated appearance. Not against Portland. Not in front of another massive crowd.
Dempsey scored off a wild scramble in the 71st minute, and the Sounders beat rival Portland 2-0 on Sunday night, their second victory over the Timbers in four days.
After getting a week to rejuvenate following the U.S. being eliminated, Dempsey was ready. He was subbed off in the final seconds, but his influence was made.
"I only had a week off, so it wasn't like I lost too much fitness and I felt good," Dempsey said. "I was just glad to play a part helping the team win and just excited to get back playing with this team."
Dempsey's goal finished a lengthy buildup of pressure by the Sounders.
Dempsey and Obafemi Martins were both denied by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts earlier in the sequence with sprawling kick saves. The ball eventually landed at the feet of Gonzalo Pineda and his diagonal pass found Dempsey open in front of the net for his first goal with Seattle since April 26 against Colorado. Dempsey was kept onside on the play by Portland's Will Johnson.
Martins and Dempsey did not play in Seattle's 3-1 extra-time win over Portland in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals earlier this week. Having a pair of fresh legs leading Seattle's attack was noticeable in the second half.
"It really gave us a lot of problems when (Martins) and Dempsey went up top," Johnson said. "It was a tough matchup that we did our best to contain. But eventually, they broke us down."
Marco Pappa added his second goal of the season in the 86th minute on a counter attack moments after Portland's Gaston Fernandez hit the outside of the goalpost with his attempt. It was Pappa's second goal this week against the Timbers after scoring the final tally in the U.S. Open Cup victory.
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