Dempsey converted off a corner kick in the 52nd minute and the Sounders beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 on Saturday to extend their overall MLS lead.
Dempsey has scored in consecutive game for the Sounders (15-7-3) after a five-match drought. He got one last week in a 4-2 victory at rival Portland, a much more wide-open contest than the grind-it-out battle against the Rapids (8-12-6).
“When we play at home, most teams sit back, and it opens up in the second half,” Dempsey said. “In an ideal world, you can open the game up in the first half and get some goals, and it makes the game easier for you. But the most important thing is the three points and getting two wins in a row and try to keep going from there.”
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei had his league-leading eighth shutout. The Sounders boosted their points total to 48, assuring that they’ll retain the Western Conference and Supporters Shield leads, regardless of any other results this weekend.
“It’s important to get points and stay up the table, make the playoffs, and make sure you’re going into the playoffs on a good run of form,” Dempsey said. “You don’t want to limp in.”
Dempsey scored his 11th goal to move within two of the Sounders’ season record. Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson each had 13 goals in 2012.
Marco Pappa’s corner kick from the right side floated into the middle of the penalty area, Dempsey ran onto it and blasted a right-footed shot from 11 yards past goalkeeper Joe Nasco.
The 30-year-old Nasco was making his MLS debut. He finished with five saves — three of them on point-blank shots by Seattle’s Obafemi Martins, who had a shot bang off the crossbar early in the second half.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was especially pleased with the result.
“We felt we made a statement last week. But a statement doesn’t mean anything unless you back it up,” Schmid said. “But also when you come off an emotional game, it’s natural that your team is a little flatter, as well. I thought we did a good job of backing up our statement, getting the three points, winning at home, and getting the shutout.”
Colorado lost its sixth straight, tying the franchise record set in 1999 and matched in 2012. The Rapids, who haven’t won since beating Chivas USA 3-0 on July 25, have been shut out three times and outscored 16-6 during the losing streak.
“Seattle is a high-powered offense, so they’re always going to get chances,” Colorado midfielder Dillon Powers said. “But I thought we did a great job limiting them. We looked strong defensively throughout the entire game. Their goal came off a set piece, which just came down to situational defending. We didn’t create too many opportunities, but we’re still a young squad out there and still learning.”
In six years, the Rapids have never won in Seattle, managing just one tie in nine games.
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