SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders’ euphoria coming off their dominant, 5-0 blowout of FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday will be tempered somewhat by the reality that they’ll be without Clint Dempsey for their next match.
Seattle’s star forward was shown a red card by referee Ricardo Salazar in the 33rd minute on Wednesday for making contact with the face of FCD midfielder Juan Esteban Ortiz. The infraction means he’ll be suspended for the Sounders’ upcoming Cascadia Cup showdown with the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday (12 p.m. PT; FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM).
Salazar was asked about the call by the media's designated pool reporter after the game and explained his reasoning for the call.
“The foul was on Mr. Ortiz of Dallas and then Clint put his hands to his face, to the opponent’s face,” Salazar said. “That’s considered violent conduct and we had no choice but to show him the red card.”
It was the first career red card in MLS play for Dempsey, although he was famously tossed from last year’s fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match against the Timbers after tearing up a referee’s notebook.
After the game, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said he hadn’t yet seen the replay of Dempsey’s ejection, but did add that he believes Dempsey has been a target of excessive physicality from opponents in the past.
“He competes but he’s also often times a target,” Schmid said. “I think people forget that. The opponent sometimes targets him so they put a little bit extra into it. I think the protection from the referees has to be there as well.”
Regardless, the Sounders will be without one of their top attacking threats in Portland on Sunday, just as they had regained his services. Wednesday was Dempsey’s second game back with Seattle following his stint with the US national team at this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
“Obviously, we’d prefer to have Clint for that game because he’s a big game player,” Schmid said. “It’s a big game and I know he thrives on those situations. But we’re going to have to make do without him.”