Clint Dempsey struck twice, early and late, to ensure a Seattle road victory over the Colorado Rapids Tuesday, a rough 3-1 win that cost the Sounders (6-7-6, 24 points) two players due to injury.
Dempsey didn’t wait long before putting his name on the score sheet. In the sixth minute, Joevin Jones sprinted up the left side and found Dempsey on a low cross at the top of the 18. Dempsey calmly finished into the far side net past USMNT teammate Tim Howard.
The early minutes remained eventful. Osvaldo Alonso was forced to leave the game in the 17th minute after a rough tackle left him clutching his knee on the turf at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Chad Marshall five minutes later after a collision near the Seattle goal line injured his ankle.
Coach Brian Schmetzer criticized referee Hilario Grajeda for failure to issue a card after either challenge.
“Refs are paid to keep guys on the field,” Schmetzer told Q13 Fox at halftime. “They need to do their job.”
Colorado out-fouled Seattle 19-9, earning five yellow cards.
Will Bruin added to the score in the 30th minute, after Dempsey tapped down a long through ball from Nicolas Lodeiro straight to his foot, leaving Howard frozen.
A goal from Colorado’s Dominique Badji in the 78th minute injected the late stages with plenty of excitement, but Dempsey sent the home crowd streaming for the exits seven minutes later when he ran on to a bouncing ball and chipped Howard to the right side of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Bruin was surprised at the game’s level of physicality.
“There were a lot of elbows thrown this game,” Bruin said. “I thought there would be a red card at some point. I’m glad there wasn’t, and the players got to sort this game out.
“This is huge. We knew this is big for us because we don’t have another league game for a while. We want to build off this.”
The Sounders take a two-week break from league play while the CONCACAF Gold Cup begins. Seattle’s rejoins league play July 19 against D.C. United at CenturyLink Field (7:30 p.m., Q13 Fox).