Dempsey scores first goal of season, Sounders tie Fire, 1-1
SEATTLE (AP) — Clint Dempsey matched Fredy Montero with one important goal for the Seattle Sounders.
Dempsey scored in the 22nd minute for his first of the season, helping the Sounders pull out a 1-1 tie against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Dempsey tied Montero for the club record with his 47th regular-season goal. It was Dempsey's 57th goal across all competitions for the Sounders, three away from Montero's overall mark.
"It has been a tough year for me personally and for the whole team," Dempsey said. "We've had a lot of injuries and it has been difficult to create chances.
"Now, we're getting guys healthy and you see that we're creating more. Hopefully, more goals will come for everybody."
Harry Shipp started the scoring sequence for the Sounders midway through the first half, taking the ball up the attacking right side. He sent it ahead to Will Bruin, who took it to the top right corner of the 6-yard box. Bruin tapped the ball across, and Dempsey slid into it, sending his shot into the upper left side.
The play helped Seattle (3-8-3) to a draw, but it is still 10 points out of the playoff picture with the season nearing the halfway mark.
"We had some good looks tonight and created some good chances," Dempsey said. "We need to keep pushing and treat every game like it's a final and hopefully try to get some points and make a late push to try to get into the playoffs."
The wide-open game featured 34 shots — 19 for the Sounders, and 15 for the Fire.
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei and Chicago's Richard Sanchez each came up with six saves, some of the dramatic variety. Sanchez denied Bruin on a prime opportunity in the 77th minute. Frei countered three minutes later when he ventured out to the top of the box to stop Fire co-leading scorer Nemanja Nikolic, who was coming at him one-on-one.
"If you're a soccer fan, it was end-to-end action. If you're a coach, you don't like all the action down at the opposite end of the field," Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. "Stef had to come up big and save us far too many times in the second half. We're pressing so hard to score that sometimes, you leave yourself open at the back."
Chicago (5-7-5) went up 1-0 in the ninth minute. Brandt Bronico backheeled a pass to Aleksander Katai, who took control about 35 yards up from the goal. He dribbled to the top left of the penalty area restraining arc and fired a shot past Frei to the back right corner for his sixth of the year. It was Katai's fourth goal in the past six games.
"This was definitely one of the best games we've played this season, and I'm very proud of our team," said Fire coach Veljko Paunovic, whose side ran its MLS unbeaten streak to four (1-0-3). "It's very difficult for us to go home and look at the fact that we didn't win the game. It was good to see how we managed to play with the ball, having possession, creating a lot of opportunities and finding the right spots to receive the ball to commit their defenders."