SEATTLE — Eddie Johnson didn’t hesitate after scoring his fifth goal of the season.
He looked up at the suite where Clint Dempsey was sitting and gave a salute that has become part of the celebration for the two when scoring goals for the U.S. national team.
Soon enough, they’ll be doing it for the same club as well.
“Of course. That’s my guy,” Johnson said. “Come on man. You all know that.”
On the night Seattle unveiled Dempsey as its newest designated player, Johnson and Obafemi Martins scored first-half goals and the Sounders beat FC Dallas 3-0 on Saturday.
After two days of speculation, Dempsey was unveiled as the newest Sounders star during a pregame ceremony.
Then his new club went out and ran its unbeaten streak at home to nine straight games, the longest in franchise history.
“You always want to put in a good performance when you sign a big-name player,” Seattle’s Brad Evans said.
“You know everybody’s putting in the work and no one wants their spot to be taken on the field. I think it was a reward for the fans. They came out early and wanted to see the big presentation and then we got on them early.”
Dempsey’s transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Seattle was made official when he unzipped his sweatshirt to reveal his new rave green jersey just before kickoff.
That set off a celebration that continued with early goals from Martins and Johnson.
Martins scored on a header in the eighth minute and Johnson scored in the 22nd minute off a perfect pass over the top of the defense from Evans.
The capper came in stoppage time in the second half when Evans scored on a penalty kick after Lamar Nagle was fouled in the box. Now with the addition of Dempsey, Seattle’s offense should only become more potent.
“Having good players is always a good problem to have,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “Adding a player like Clint is going to be very important to our team, and our team tonight went out and showed that we can play.”
Dempsey’s arrival was a bold move by Seattle and a surprising decision by the U.S. national team star.
Instead of getting ready for next year’s World Cup by playing for Tottenham in the Premier League, Dempsey chose a return to Major League Soccer thanks to the aggressive play by the Sounders.
His new club gave Dempsey plenty to cheer about.
With the stadium still bustling and Dempsey shaking hands with fans in the south end, Martins brought everyone to their feet again.
Mauro Rosales sent in a free kick from about 35 yards and Martins was unmarked in the middle of the penalty area. With a quick flick of his head, Martins redirected the shot into the upper corner of the net and past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
The eighth-minute goal was the fastest this season for Seattle. And 14 minutes later, Seattle was ahead 2-0 after Johnson’s run behind the defense and right-footed shot past Fernandez into the side of the net.
Dallas remained winless in its past nine matches, having not won since beating San Jose on May 25. Dallas has scored just six goals during its skid and was shut out for the fifth straight match.
Dallas’ last goal came against Philadelphia on June 29 in a 2-2 draw. The best scoring chance Dallas had was in the 69th minute when Mauro Diaz was open just inside the top of the penalty area, but pulled his shot wide of the net.
“I just don’t think we’re in good form. I don’t think we created enough opportunities,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. “It seems like we’re very content with keeping the ball, but not really going anywhere with it.”
Seattle goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann had an easy night in his first MLS game in more than 14 years.
Hahnemann made his first start in MLS play for the Sounders while Michael Gspurning continues to recover from a wrist injury. It was Hahnemann’s first MLS game since June 26, 1999.
“We got a clean sheet which was absolutely awesome and I got one more chance to play in front of this crowd,” the 41-year-old Hahnemann said. “It’s great. I’ll take it.”