Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Clint Dempsey made a triumphant return to Seattle on Sunday as he scored in the 71st minute to help the Sounders to a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field.
Dempsey spent the past month in Brazil with the United States national team at the World Cup, but in his first game back, it was his second-half goal that separated the Cascadia Cup rivals before Marco Pappa added an insurance tally four minutes from time for the hosts.
Seattle has now won four of its last five games to move 10 points clear at the top of the Western Conference.
The match was an extremely cautious affair in the opening 45 minutes as the two sides combined to put just one shot on target.
But things came to life after the break as Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts needed to be alert to keep out a chance from Gonzalo Pineda in the opening minute of the half.
Dempsey nearly turned home a header from Zach Scott at close range in the 59th, but he made no mistake with his next chance.
Ricketts produced a fine double save to first deny Dempsey and then Obafemi Martins in front of goal. However, Portland was unable to clear the ball and Pineda drove a shot toward the net that Dempsey was able to redirect home.
Lamar Neagle nearly added another goal for the Sounders when he struck the post in the 82nd minute, while the Timbers came within inches of an equalizer in the 85th as Gaston Fernandez unleashed a long-range shot that clipped the outside of the upright with Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei easily beaten.
One minute later, Seattle put the game away as Neagle led a counter-attack that saw him square the ball to Pappa inside the area for a left-footed finish.