Although Clint Dempsey is admittedly still trying to work on his
fitness, the Seattle Sounders have been in great shape lately.
In Dempsey’s return to his home state, the Sounders will try to
earn a season-high fourth straight victory Saturday night and spoil
the potential debut of Houston Dynamo designated player Alexander
After playing for six seasons in the English Premier League,
Dempsey made his official return to MLS in last Saturday’s 2-1
victory over Toronto FC. Seattle’s newest designated player
replaced another, an injured Obafemi Martins, in the 34th minute
and had five shots with one on goal.
“I’m still trying to get my fitness there. I’m not there yet but
I was happy with the touches that I got tonight and the work that I
put in, and the chances that I created and hopefully they will
start falling for me in the games to come,” Dempsey said.
The native of Nacogdoches, Texas, will next try to help the
Sounders (10-7-4) claim four straight victories since a franchise
record-tying five-game streak April 14-May 9, 2012.
Seattle, however, is 0-3-1 all-time at Houston (9-7-6) – the
most recent visit on July 30, 2011 – and could use the three points
in a competitive Western Conference. The Sounders are among a group
of six teams separated by three points or fewer.
“Getting points at this part of the year is really, really
important. We have a few games in hand and we need these points,”
midfielder Mauro Rosales said.
Houston is in the final playoff spot in the East, where the
first- and seventh-place clubs are separated by nine points. The
Dynamo are two points ahead of sixth-place Chicago and three in
front of New England in seventh.
After going unbeaten in four straight (3-0-1), Houston missed an
opportunity to add to their point total last Saturday, falling 1-0
at Real Salt Lake.
“We’ve got a history of strong finishes,” midfielder Andrew
Driver said. “Winners win when they need to, and that’s hopefully
what we’ll do.”
Lopez is a potential key piece to a stretch run after becoming
Houston’s second designated player Aug. 7. The 21-year-old
midfielder could help his club against a short-hander Sounders
Along with Martins’ uncertain status because of an ankle injury,
Seattle won’t have forward Eddie Johnson available. Johnson scored
for the U.S. national team in a 4-3 victory in Bosnia-Herzegovina
on Wednesday and is suspended for this game because of an
accumulation of yellow cards.
Martins has a team-best seven goals and Johnson has scored five.
Johnson was with the U.S. national team during the only meeting
with Houston last season, a 2-0 win on March 23, 2012.