By IVES GALARCEP
It didn’t have nearly the fan fare of his introduction to Seattle Sounders fans last week, but Clint Dempsey isn’t likely to care that his Sounders debut . The U.S. Men’s National Team captain will walk away from Saturday night’s road match vs. Toronto FC happy to know the Sounders’ third straight win has Seattle right back in the MLS playoff picture.
The Sounders jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead in a match that saw Toronto FC have the better of the play in the opening stanza, but a pair of defensive blunders ultimately cost TFC in a 2-1 loss at BMO Field on Saturday.
Mauro Rosales opened the scoring in the 16th minute courtesy of an Eddie Johnson header pass, then Lamar Neagle forced a Doneil Henry own goal in the 40th minute to give the Sounders the goals they would need to hold off a TFC side that showed good flashes at times, and needed just 30 seconds in the second half to find a goal courtesy of Jonathan Osorio.
TFC nearly stole a point late in second-half stoppage time when Jeremy Brockie slipped behind the Seattle defense unmarked and latched onto a pass before turning on goal only to have Marcus Hahnemann make a vital save to preserve the victory for the Sounders.
The victory pushes the Sounders into fourth place in the Western Conference, with at least a game in hand on the other teams in the West playoff chase.
Dempsey didn’t start in his Seattle debut, but came on earlier than expected after replacing an injured Obafemi Martins in the 34th minute. Martins left the match after being injured by a Henry challenge.
Dempsey was active in his first appearance for the Sounders, drawing fouls, finding a lot of the ball as he tried a plethora of long-range shots. He came closest in the 70th minute with a curling low shot that forced a diving one-handed stop from Joe Bendik.
Rosales opened the scoring after a Brad Evans floated pass found Johnson in the penalty area. Johnson promptly headed it toward Rosales, who finished the chance experty.
Neagle helped make it 2-0 when he out-muscled Richard Eckersley for the ball on the left flank and raced in before unleashing a low cross that Henry accidentally back-heeled into his own net.
TFC started the second half well, with Osorio needing just 30 seconds to find the net and make the score 2-1, but Seattle did well to hold off Toronto FC, while keeping pressure on the home team’s defense.
Here are the match highlights: