Clint Dempsey scored in his return to MLS as Seattle Sounders FC (12-4-2, 38 points) beat the Portland Timbers (4-6-9, 21 points), 2-0, Sunday night in front of a crowd of 64,207 on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Marco Pappa also scored and Stefan Frei recorded his sixth shutout as Seattle kept a seven-point cushion in the Supporters' Shield race.
After 70 minutes of scoreless play, Dempsey put Seattle ahead in the 71st minute. After consecutive point-blank saves by Donovan Rickets following a Seattle free kick, Portland cleared the ball away to Gonzalo Pineda at the top of the box, who fired a ball through the defense that found Dempsey for the tap in.
It marked the ninth goal of the season for Dempsey in just 10 appearances. Pineda is now tied for the team-lead with six assists, and leads the league with four game-winning assists.
Pappa doubled the lead in the 86th minute when Lamar Neagle fed him near the penalty spot for a calm shot past Ricketts. It was the second goal of the season for Pappa and fifth assist for Neagle.
Seattle has now won six straight games at CenturyLink Field, the longest home winning streak in MLS this season, and leads MLS with 21 points at home (7-2-0). Across all competitions, the Rave Green have won nine straight games at home.
Sounders FC out-shot Portland 23-9, including a 10-3 shots on goal advantage. Frei picked up his sixth clean sheet of the season and his fourth in the last seven games.
Seattle hit the post twice, first when Neagle got behind the defense in the 82nd minute, then Dempsey in the 90th minute after an over-the-top through ball from Micheal Azira.
With five points (1-1-2), Seattle now trails Vancouver by just two points in the 2014 Cascadia Cup standing, while Portland is third with one point (0-2-1).
Tonight's attendance of 64,207 was the largest of the 2014 season and fourth largest ever for an MLS match at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC hosts Tottenham Hotspur in an international friendly on July 19. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
SEA - Clint Dempsey (Gonzalo Pineda) 71'
SEA - Marco Pappa (Lamar Neagle) 86'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba; Lamar Neagle, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Micheal Azira 87); Clint Dempsey (Dylan Remick 90+1), Chad Barrett (Obafemi Martins 51).
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Aaron Kovar, Kenny Cooper, Cam Weaver.
TOTAL SHOTS: 23 (3 players, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Dempsey, Neagle 3); FOULS: 14 (Neagle 4); OFFSIDE: 4 (Barrett, Dempsey 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Pappa, Pineda 3); SAVES: 3 (Frei 3).
Portland Timbers - Donovan Ricketts; Michael Harrington (Kalif Alhassan 83), Rauwshan McKenzie, Danny O'Rourke, Jorge Villafana; Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri (Gaston Fernandez 74); Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi, Steve Zakuani (Rodney Wallace 63).
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber, Liam Ridgewell, Norberto Papparatto, Michael Nanchoff.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Zakuani 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players, 1); FOULS: 17 (Harrington 4); OFFSIDE: 2 (Adi 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Johnson 2); SAVES: 8 (Ricketts 8).
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 31'
POR - Jack Jewsbury (caution) 69'
POR - Diego Valeri (caution) 72'
POR - Rodney Wallace (caution) 90+2'
Referee: Alan Kelley
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly cloudy and 80 degrees