Defoe brace lifts Toronto FC over Sounders


Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography


SEATTLE – From David Beckham to Thierry Henry, there’s a long and well-documented history of highly-touted Designated Players needing time to adjust to life in Major League Soccer.

Apparently no one told Jermain Defoe.

Just a week after arriving in Canada, Defoe capitalized on a pair of early Seattle mistakes to provide his new team all the goals they would need, lifting Toronto FC to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders in front of 38,441 at CenturyLink Field.

“Obviously sometimes it takes time to adapt,” Defoe said after the match. “When you’re training with the boys it’s important that you listen to the information and try and see how your new teammates play. It does take time. For some reason today it all clicked.”

Indeed it did.

In only the 17th minute, Jonathan Osorio fed a through-ball into space that left Defoe between Seattle’s central defenders. The 31-year-old striker easily beat a helpless Stefan Frei to open his MLS account.

“The first ball was a great ball,” Defoe said, “and you’ve just got to finish it off.”

Seattle midfielder Brad Evans, injured a few plays earlier, was just limping back onto the pitch as the play developed.

Defoe added a second goal just seven minutes later. Marco Pappa, pressured by TFC newcomer Michael Bradley near midfield, passed back directly to Defoe. The London native took three touches to create space and unleashed a rocket from the top of the penalty area for the 2-0 lead.

“To score two goals in your debut,” Defoe said, “it’s a dream.”

Defoe’s head coach and onetime teammate wasn’t surprised.

“No, not at all,” said Ryan Nelsen, who played with Defoe at Tottenham Hotspur before joining TFC last year himself. “It does take some players time, but I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside the man and watching him at training so once you see it day-in and day-out, you just know that’s going to happen.”

It was not the prettiest win. But pretty didn’t matter on Saturday, not for a team desperate to leave a disappointing past in the past, not for a team working five new faces into its opening day lineup.

“Every guy that stepped on the field tonight gave everything, left everything out there, and that’s what we have to be about,” said Bradley after putting in a typically strong performance in central midfield. “There’s no doubt in my mind that as the season goes on, we’ll continue to improve and our football will be good, and we’ll play well. But tonight was different, tonight was about the spirit and the mentality and doing whatever it took to come away with three points, and that’s a big step along the way.”

Nelsen was likewise pleased with the effort, even while aware the soccer will have to get better.

“We have got so much to improve on,” Nelsen said. “We’re not stupid. We know we have new players coming in that haven’t played together. Our organization wasn’t too bad, but we can be so much better off the ball. What I like about this team is their heart, their character, their desire, that they want to win. That’s what you hope for, and (you) build your house on that type of foundation. We know we have lots to improve on and we’ll get back to work as soon as we can.”

Clint Dempsey scored his first goal of the season and second as a Seattle Sounder in the 68th minute, stepping into a pass from Obafemi Martins and burying a shot past Julio Cesar to bring the Sounders within a goal.

Seattle (1-1-0) pressed hard down the stretch, but was unable to replicate last week’s late magic, when a stoppage-time goal gave the team a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.

In the 75th minute, left back Dylan Remick found second-half substitute Kenny Cooper alone at the top of the 6-yard box, but Cooper could only send a floating header toward the sideline. In the 84th minute, Cooper found himself with the ball at his feet inside the area, but sailed a cross yards over Dempsey and Martins as the pair charged goal.

That was as close as the Sounders would get.

For Toronto (1-0-0), the win is just its second opening-day victory in eight seasons. It’s also the club’s first win at CenturyLink Field, and just the second time TFC has ever beaten the Sounders. The club is coming off a six win season, and has never made the playoffs in its seven year history. The victory is a sign that the $100 million the team laid out on players like Defoe, Bradley, and Brazilian striker Gilberto (out with an injury on Saturday) may have been money very well spent.

“We’ve got a vision of where the club wants to be,” said Nelsen. “We’re trying to take steps forward, and how big those steps are (is) determined on days like this. It was a good step forward.”

The Sounders, for their part, were left lamenting mistakes.

“(We’re) obviously disappointed, especially since we gave up two goals that were really soft,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “We gave them two gifts. The first was at a time when (Brad) Evans was off injured and wasn’t back on the field—we didn’t cover the position, so that’s our fault. We didn’t do that well. The second one was a bad back pass. It went right to him.”

Looking forward, both clubs are back in action on Saturday, with the Sounders traveling to Montreal while Toronto hosts D.C. United.

Here are the match highlights:

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121 Responses to Defoe brace lifts Toronto FC over Sounders

  1. Jack Del says:

    Is there any reason in particular you are choosing to simply not make a single mention of reference to Clint Dempsey’s violent conduct off the ball? They only replayed it a half dozen times in the first half and further referenced it in the second half.

    “Think the Sounders were unlucky not to find the equalizer?”

    I think the Sounders will be lucky to have their star player before 4 games from now.

    link to

    • chris says:

      hahaha thats violent conduct?

      • Jack Del says:

        Are you trying to be funny? Punching someone in the groin is not only violent, it’s crass, and well beyond any level of acceptable play.

        • milbo says:


        • chris says:

          If you think an open handed tap on the nuts is violent then you’ve never seen violent

          • Jack Del says:

            Whatever fantasy world you want to play in, by all means go ahead.

            But in our reality–where FIFA and rational people operate–hitting someone in the groin, on purpose, is violent conduct.

            Your response is baffling and speaks volumes of you.

            • chris says:

              Haha have you ever seen what goes on during corner kicks? This pales in comparison but go ahead attack me that speaks volumes of you

              • Jack Del says:

                You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, that much is clear. Intentionally hitting another player in the groin is always a red card.

                Violent conduct is a specifically defined term in FIFA laws. But clearly you aren’t aware of that, which makes your arrogance amusing.

                I think this describes you adequately.

                link to

          • John says:

            If he does something dumb like that this summer and gets sent off for it, it’s not going too be that funny

        • Oh puh-lease says:

          OK, dumb move by Clint. I’m watching the game on my DVR this second…. lets please cut the hyperbolic dramatics and be clear about what happened.

          Dempsey walking forward, blindly, quite lightly swept his arm with an open hand behind him while looking forward… looks he may have brushed/grazed his fingertips the mans shorts… who then dropped to the ground writhing about, making a meal of it trying to draw a card.

          Furthermore, they replayed it ne time during the first half, once during intermission. Looked every bit as harmless each time.

          • Jack Del says:

            World class homerism. Well done.

            Sad if you actually believe what you just typed. That he didn’t just get into it with the player. That he didn’t glance back to where the player was. That he didn’t swing his arm fast backward into the player’s groin. That he didn’t continue walking as if nothing happened.

            • Puh-lease (whoop-whoop) says:

              No homer here.. just callin’ it like I sees it. I don’t particularly care for some of Clint’s histrionics. I’ll say again- dumb move- its begging a red card. However- in the context of any soccer match where hard tackles, shoves in mid air, blows to the head, elbows, “letting a guy know you are there” etc etc are continuous… to throw out words like an act of violence or to even call it a punch is a very soft, loose interpretation of the word… a bit dramatic. Intent? Who the heck knows, we never saw what proceeded that. Perhaps he was grabbing Clint from behind previous to that? Regardless…. stupid as it was, was a feeble swing and no one was getting injured as a result. Sorry, I’m just not a huge fan of over dramatization to make a point.

          • John says:

            he clearly turns his body and swings the arm back

          • Increase0 says:

            Okay, you are down playing it a bit. But really? That shot doesn’t show where his hand hits. So it could be nothing… or it could be Dempsey slapping someones junk. That camera angle isn’t very good.

          • John Lowent says:

            I agree,

            He wasn’t even looking when he swiped at him. He meant to hit him but not in the nuts. Also, who doesn’t wear a cup? There is no way he should have even been hurt.

            • Paul6 says:

              Are you serious about wearing a cup? I don’t think cups are a common thing in soccer.

            • ConradB says:

              What are you talking about? I’ve played my entire life and I’ve never, nor have I known anyone who ever wore a cup to play soccer.

          • Gary Page says:

            To add my 2 cents, it looked by a stupid move by Dempsey, but the “victim” clearly over reacted. It didn’t look like he was hit that hard at all, nor was it clear exactly where he was hit. Every guy has been hit in that region and it isn’t pleasant, but I’ve been hit harder than that without falling over and rolling on the ground.

            • Bac says:

              If that was La Liga they would have bought the stretcher out…

            • beachbum says:

              agree Gary, but the intent part of Clint’s action is the disturbing piece, and coming on the heels of that BS intent vs. Ukraine I’d say something’s amiss with his head right now

          • R.benjamin says:

            He clearly landed what he was attempting. Nothing casual or gentle about it.

            As a neutral it was a straight red offense

        • R.benjamin says:

          Call it what you want, it should have been a straight red.

        • baropbop says:

          Honestly the fact that an act like that isn’t a straight red card is the very reason I love the MLS. In Italy that’s a red and 4 game suspension but hopefully that will never be the case here.
          A sack tap of that nature is just how you say hello in some places. Describing that as a violent attack is ridiculous. He swatted at him and it may or may not have hit nuts. I would have given both players a yellow.
          Also not surprised that the numerous late shots that Dempsey received seem to go without mention.

    • PSU says:

      Should get suspended by the league to send a message. Clint is far too old to be acting like that.

      That being said, it is not news in the game report. It was a minor incident and there’s no way you can expect a ref to see that. If I were a ref and I saw this out of the corner of my eye, I would probably just think the guy was faking it (which he probably was).

      • Jack Del says:

        Certainly can’t expect the official to catch this, no. They aren’t superhuman!

        But the disciplinary committee will probably like a word.

        • Atlanta Til I Die says:

          Deuce nut-punching a former Silverback? Aw HELL NAW. Dude better check himself!

    • Cowboy Junky says:

      Would you like some cheese with your wine?

      Dempsey is 31. He’s never had a behavioral incident. It’s not like he’s a 20 year old hot head with a history of poor conduct.

      It was a minor nut swing and a major job of acting.

      Dempsey gets a pass.

      • Paul6 says:

        Dempsey does have a history of behavioral problems. Especially in his first MLS stint.

        • Gary Page says:

          Only saw him a little while at the Revs. Source? Examples? That was almost 10 years ago anyway and he took a lot more than he gave while in the EPL.

      • Sugarland Texas says:

        Recently, Dempsey has acted like an idiot. It looks like he’s trying to “show” he’s playing hard instead of actually letting his play do the talking. He’s posturing He acted like a douche with the Nats vs. Ukraine also. He’s in a flopping, complaining, bad sportsmanship loop. I’m guessing he’s scared, he’s had a run of uneventful play (including his loan deal). He’s scared of judgement, that’s a pretty human response but his reaction has been non-productive and he has acted stupidly imo. All he can do is play – train well, get in good spots, be a good teammate, be professional, the goals will come when they come. Put the brakes on the histrionics, be a good teammate, be a good sport, be a human being, whatever happens after that happens. Nicking someone in the eggs to get an advantage doesn’t make you an intense competitor it just makes you a douche. Does he really want to go the way of the other countries where flopping, hitting, time wasting, injury faking is the norm. For me, I’d rather see him never score again than take up the flag for that bs. Being a real human being means having integrity and it trumps all else, including winning. I don’t know how many folks believe that way, but that’s how I choose to believe.

        • GW says:


          My Dempsey watching includes his time at Fulham, Spurs and the USMNT.

          His behavior yesterday seemed about normal. He’s always played like that. And he is pretty mild compared to his contemporaries in the EPL or on other national teams. He is certainly no Mark Van Bommel or Joey Barton.

          Clint plays in a perpetual state of bad humor. I like him because he is for the most part productive, not because he is particularly watchable. He is not out there to makes friends or look pretty or classy. His behavior on field has never been particularly classy.

          If you are a soccer purist, Clint is an ugly, blue collar win at all costs unpleasant sort.

          If you want some pretty boy role model for kids you have the wrong guy in Clint. If you don’t like it don’t watch him.

          • jb says:

            An excellent summary. Like you, Clint’s “ruthlessness” is what makes me appreciate him. And yes, it spills over into poor sportsmanship at times. But quite frankly, that “edge” is something that is sadly lacking with the rest of the entire USMNT pool. I believe this is what Klinsmann was getting at when he called the US team “naïve” last year, and is part of the reason he named Dempsey captain. One thing that is new for Dempsey that he will need perhaps to adjust to, is that he will be front and center on camera at all times.

            • beachbum says:

              so having an ‘edge’ is to intentionally take a swipe at someone’s groin off the ball?

              no way

              • jb says:

                1. I wasn’t convinced Deuce intentionally meant to slap the guy’s balls.

                2. If you think this doesn’t happen in nearly every game in every league across the world, you’re very naïve yourself.

              • beachbum says:

                naive is pretending this kind of action means one is playing with an edge…it means one is playing over the edge and screwing up. fine line between tough and stupid

      • Duke says:

        Not true at all. Dempsey has a very hot head and has, on occasion, displayed poor conduct. Here is a description from a practice problem involving Clint that led to him being suspended for two weeks by the revs in 2006

        Franchino reacted angrily to an elbow thrown to his face by Dempsey, who had been upset by a body check on him by the Revs captain during the run of play, and the two began to argue. The verbal altercation led to Dempsey punching Franchino in the face before the Revs captain began to fight back.​

    • Bumby Hemmingway says:

      I grew up playing club soccer in Texas. Hitting each other in the balls while the ref isn’t looking is just what we do.

      • Chris H says:

        LOL, stinkin Texans!

        I found myself a couple of times wishing Dempsey was more composed, it’s good to have fire, but the nut slap and a few other reactions to fouls could have gotten him an early walk to the locker room if you get a strict ref. Of the two, I think Bradley’s tireless work and never-say-die make a better national team captain, but that’s my opinion.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        Stay classy.

      • beachbum says:

        in central California, if you do that, you better be ready to throw down, and I mean hard

    • bryan says:

      Neutral here, Dempsey fan. While the TFC player certainly overreacted, it was a childish move by Dempsey. He got the free kick, play was stopped, and he does that? Idk what his deal is, his kick out against Ukraine was ridiculous too. Both times wearing the armband. That’s not a captain.

      This shouldn’t be a huge scandal though and maybe he deserves a fine. Hopefully that goal will snap him out of whatever is causing him to act like this.

  2. Big Red says:

    Michael Bradley looked terrible next to a superior center mid in Alonso. Heck, even Pineda looked better than Bradley.

    • Observer says:

      Really? I thought he had the second biggest impact on the pitch today. I must have been watching a different game.

    • alex says:

      errr… Alonso had the better second half but Bradley was absolutely all over the place for the first 45.

    • Jack Del says:

      Michael Bradley dominated the middle of the pitch. He was everywhere winning balls, shutting down attacks, and pressuring high.

    • Increase0 says:

      Um, his team lost the ball all the time after he passed it to them…. Papa was a turnover machine. Bradley’s teams gave up the ball too easily but he didn’t.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        Alonso was more aggressive, won more tackles, played harder, etc.—but then again, he had to: Bradley was up 2-0 almost the entire game. Really no way to compare the two.

    • John Lowent says:

      @ Big Red

      Not sure what game you were watching. Bradley was very good.

      • Big Red says:

        Bradley Goggles in full effect. First 3/4 Bradley passes were turnovers with more in the first half. That contributed a lot to Seattle dominating possession. He also just played way out of position which allowed Seattle to literally pass the ball anywhere. What was really telling was how he was constantly chasing Seattle players but without success. Dempsey, Pineda, Alonso, Martins, Etc all took their turns shaking Bradley out of his shoes. Especially Alonso, just watch the game highlights. Bradley is more like a speed bump in midfield. If this is the future of American soccer, you are all in trouble.

        • Alex says:

          Would “without success” include pressuring the mid which lead to the 2nd Toronto goal? Just because you didn’t take the ball off someone doesn’t mean you’re ineffective.

          • Benjamin says:

            Was about to post the same thing. Thought Bradley’s pressure in midfield led to a number of errant passes by the Seattle, with the big one being Dempsey’s back pass that led to the second half. Also thought his passing was pretty spot-on as usual, particularly in the first half. Accusing others of a predisposed bias while showing one of your own kind of undermines your analysis.

    • beachbum says:


    • bryan says:

      You need to re watch…

  3. danny says:

    Either you didn’t watch the game or just looking to hate on Bradley. MB played great defense and read the game well, causing turnovers and pushing the counterattack. Alonso is very good and in the 2nd half he looked very active on the ball, but Seattle has better possession players and Toronto was just trying to hold them off and counter. My point is that it’s not a one to one comparison. Bradley did well doing what he could to help his team, but he can’t make his teammates have better skill and possession, and that wasn’t really Toronto’s tactics anyways. It looks like they are playing a la Bob Bradley USMNT which might actually be the best way for them to win games. But, I do like Alonso’s game a lot and I’d love to see him line up next to Bradley on the NATS. Two bald heads in the middle = win.

    • Jack Del says:

      Imagine we will see a much more flowing attack with Gilberto added allowing Bradley to sit deeper with DeRosario ahead of him,

      • milbo says:

        Turn off the computer your mom will be coming home any minute

        • Jack Del says:

          You know, chris. If you’re going to switch names–you should switch writing styles as well.

          Capitalizing, but no other punctuation. No period to end your sentence. Same between milbo and chris.

    • GW says:


      Defoe was extremely sharp.

      But absent his two goals. Toronto looked like what they are; a team who had had one week of practice together. Given those circumstances Bradley played about as well as could be expected.

      TFC have a lot of work still to do. Maybe Defoe can keep them afloat while they work it out.

    • beachbum says:

      +1 danny on all your observations

  4. Expat4455 says:

    What got my attention is how casually Dempsey did it, and walked away without a glance and that this appears to be out of character for him to do such a think. Like he is very angry about something.

    • John says:

      He’s shown a certain level of disrespect to the league pretty much as he showed up. Some of the interviews he’s given where he comes off as beyond annoyed. Complaining about MLS playing through international breaks and everything else. You’d think he was forced to come back to MLS and gun point and not handed million of dollars.

      • Expat4455 says:

        Yeah, he looks p…ed off about something. Maybe it was something that happened in Frankfurt.

        • MikeP. says:

          Dempsey has always had an attitude.He is extremely competitive.I think it’s a good sign.When he feels like he has something to prove he plays better.

    • chris says:

      This is the same dude that elbowed John Terry. Do people even pay attention? Dempsey’s always played with a chip on his shoulder

  5. Expat4455 says:

    By the way, to all of you saying no one has seen Julian Green play, Bayern II is playing Buchbach tomorrow at 14:00, I believe England time, 9:00 am EDT. I may be an hour off.

    You should be able to find the match on the internet.

  6. Expat4455 says:

    An interesting item concerning Bayern Munich. put out their 100 best footballers in the world list. Bayern has 11 in the top 40. Mandzukic is at #44, so that is 12 of the top 44.

    And people question Julian Green’s talent, unglaublich.

    • Increase0 says:

      Well we hope so, If he is as good as say even Shaqiri Ill be happy.

    • Karletto says:

      Watch green completely flop when given a chance in the first team. It has happened before to better prospects.

    • slowleftarm says:

      I don’t question it. But it hasn’t been proven. Not by a long shot. Of course Bayern has great players – they’re the best team in the world at the moment. But Julian Green isn’t part of that team. He’s played two minutes of first-team soccer in his life. Bayern II plays in the fourth division. Just calm down.

      Go look at the list of previous top scorers for Bayern. How many, other than Thomas Muller, have made any impact? In the past ten years, other than Muller, the next most successful player is Saer Sene of the Revs. It’s far from guaranteed that Green is going to become a great player. It may happen but it’s in no way a certainty.

      Personally, I can’t wait for him to choose Germany so we don’t have to hear about him every day.

      • slowleftarm says:

        I meant list of top scorers for Bayern II, which I believe Julian is this season.

      • Meh fine. Let's just do excuses. says:

        Gosh. HE MADE A LIST!. Oh wait, he didn’t. His teammates did. Legendary by Association — not a crime I guess.

        • Expat4455 says:

          Meh fine, You missed it. If you read slowleft’s comment again you will see that they are not Green’s teammates. Slowleft specifically said: “Green isn’t part of that team”.

      • Expat4455 says:

        Slowleft, your last sentence says it all. You do not want Julian Green to play for the U.S, National Team, even knowing that if he does it would make an immediate improvement.

        And the reason you gave is like one a pre-teen girl would give for something she doesn’t want. Did you also stomp your foot as your typed it?

  7. KingGoogleyEye says:

    Well obviously the Sounders’ turf gave them an unfair home advantage.

  8. Ivan says:

    Are the Sounders still playing on that abomination called artificial turf where the ball bounces funny?

    Put real grass already, or get your own stadium!

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Yeah, and while you’re at it, start riding flying unicorns already!

      • bb says:

        The criticisms of Dempsey I get. But seriously, why people would even think that Seattle installing grass or switching stadiums is completely beyond me! It will never happen, so get over it.

        • beachbum says:

          we understand, it will never happen, cool. But Seattle should be prepared to get ripped for it endlessly because oeven Sigi rips that field, and rightly so, so get used to it or get over it. That field deserves derision

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            beachbum: I completely agree: the Sounders should endure constant derision for the terrible field—but derision is different from impossible/ignorant demands.

    • Horsewhistle says:

      Why wouldn’t they just replace the turf this, esp. after winning the Super Bowl.

      • Chris says:

        Apparently, the Seahawks actually prefer the harder surface and don’t want to replace the turf as often as the Sounders would like.

        • Mattjack says:

          Tell that to the linemen who are physically broken after only a few years playing on it… They need a mixed turf to absorb the rain but have better give and bounce for footy.

          • KingGoogleyEye says:

            I think they tell linemen, “There are dozens of talented, young, unbroken college footballers just waiting to take your place….”

            (i.e., when Chris reported what “the Seahawks” prefer, that includes the owners and coaches, not only the players.)

      • bryan says:

        The GM said last week they ran out of time to put new turf down. It’s gonna happen though.

  9. Scruff says:

    This TFC team will be scary once they get more games under their belt.

  10. JJ says:

    If a sack tap is violent conduct, I have missed many lawsuit opportunities in my life

    • Falsify says:

      Oh wow you’re so macho.

    • baropbop says:

      Or if you’ve ever played soccer at a remotely competitive lever you would know that this happens in pretty much every single game

      • Meh fine. Let's just do excuses. says:

        Dude bro you know how it is on the streets or whatever… that is some real stuff… educate everybody or something…nobody here ever didi rec leagues or intruamurals like you. Shall we call you Superman?

  11. beachbum says:

    100 comments on a game between Toronto and Seattle

    • Benjamin C. says:

      This is what happens when two of the biggest stars in American soccer over the past decade play in the same game on opposing MLS teams. If Altidore comes back to MLS in the next year or so, there might be a nuclear meltdown on this blog. That would mean the four most polarizing figures in American soccer (in terms of these message threads) would be playing in MLS at the same time: Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, and Altidore. I, for one, kind of hope it happens.

      • beachbum says:

        I really enjoyed watching those teams, and those 2 players yesterday, playing an MLS game. it was a nice day for MLS.

        now have some huge opportunities and challenges in CCL games this week to prove more one way or the other for the league

        Come on baby!!!

    • danny says:

      Myself as an example- this was the first full MLS game I’ve watched in a couple years- the last being one I attended in person.

  12. Darwin says:

    Dempsey to Oba after scoring: “See? Pass ME the ball and I will score!”

    You could tell Dempsey was getting frustrated with Oba.

  13. Jayrod1111 says:

    Dempsey to TFC player: ” Hey whats the capital of Thailand”???……..Bangkok!!!

  14. chuck says:

    Defoe’s brace on his first game is terrible news. Makes MLS look bush league :(