Sounders-Dynamo Preview

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.