Clint Dempsey scored his first league goal of the season, tying Fredy Montero for the club scoring record at 47, but Seattle Sounders FC still dropped two points at home to Chicago Fire as an early goal from Aleksandar Katai would be enough for a 1-1 draw.
Chicago would get on the board first thanks to a perfectly placed shot from Katai in the ninth minute of the match. Multiple Sounders failed to close down on the dangerous Serbian forward, giving Katai a window to shoot from about 25 yards out. His shot was destined for the bottom corner of the net as Stefan Frei did his best to get his fingertips on the ball but wasn’t able to push it wide.
To their credit, Seattle came right back at the Fire, dominating possession before finally working a series of passes that ended with Dempsey in front of the net for a tap in. Starting with Kim Kee-Hee, five different Sounders played the ball as they passed through the Fire defence with a creativity that has been missing from their attack this season. The play develops thanks to an incisive through ball from Cristian Roldan to Will Bruin who was then able to put the ball back in front of goal to a sliding Dempsey.
Dempsey was dismissive of the goal having any added significance having tied the club record saying, “I’m just trying to go out and help the team” before focusing on the club’s goal of continuing to make the playoffs every season.
It’s been a tough year for Dempsey first missing out on his last World Cup after the U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify in 2017 for the tournament currently in progress only to have to weather a so far lackluster season in Seattle. At 35 years of age, Dempsey is in the twilight of his career but still says he feels healthy and is “able to move around the field well” but the numerous injuries to teammates like Nico Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez has made it difficult for the forward to score goals.
“The last few games having Victor back and Nico back, they make such a huge difference in the team and the way that we play… With them in there we’re able to get more numbers forward and create better chances,” said Dempsey.
The result is ultimately a disappointing one for the club as they desperately need to collect maximum points, especially at home, to get back into the playoff picture. It feels even more disappointing when you factor in Chicago sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference and that many of their starters also played in their U.S. Open Cup match just days earlier.
Seattle is running out of time to make the playoffs sitting 11 points back of the sixth and final playoff position with just 20 games remaining but have a great opportunity at home on Saturday against hated rivals Portland Timbers who are currently in a three-way tie for fourth. Seattle will be hoping Dempsey’s goal will get him back to his scoring ways against the team he has already scored against nine times in just ten matches.