SEATTLE — Clint Dempsey’s curling free kick from almost 30 yards is among the nominees for goal of the week in Major League Soccer.
But for all of the individual skill in that one, it was Dempsey’s other Saturday goal that was the talk of Seattle Sounders FC training on Tuesday.
Much of the reason was because it wasn’t Dempsey’s goal alone.
His was the last foot to strike the ball before it went into the net and into the book as the game-winner in the 3-2 victory at FC Dallas. But several other Sounders also contributed, each playing an important role in a goal that was particularly impressive to Seattle coach Sigi Schmid.
“I’m so extremely encouraged by our ability to continue to fight and battle and find ways to win,”
Schmid said. “You look at the last goal that we scored, and that’s as good a goal as you’re going to see this year in the league. It was just the overall play.”
Dempsey’s second goal of the day started with reserve Marco Pappa carrying the ball in from midfield and sending a pass forward to Obafemi Martins. Martins one-touched it back to Dempsey near the top of the penalty arc. Dempsey carried forward for two touches before sending the ball to reserve Chad Barrett on his right. Barrett one-touched the ball back to Dempsey, who knocked it over charging Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
“That’s how you want to play the game,” Dempsey said. “A great ball in to Pappa, Pappa did a good job of getting the pass in to Oba, Oba a good layoff to me. And then Chad opened up. I tried to get him the ball, and he was unselfish and was able to play the ball across to me. It’s just moving the ball well around the box and creating good chances for ourselves, and getting the guys good looks.”
Dempsey and Schmid each went out of their way to stress the importance of Martins, a career-long goal scorer who leads MLS with four assists.
“He’s doing a lot of the little things that don’t show up on the scoreboard,” Schmid said. “… I think his work for the team has been selfless, and I think he’s been a very important part of the success of the team.”
Still, more attention goes to the goal scorers; and especially to Dempsey, the United States national team star who moved to MLS last August. After getting one goal and one assist in a dozen 2013 appearances, Dempsey has produced a league-high six goals this season, including five over his last two games. On Monday, he was named MLS player of the week for the second consecutive week — this time unanimously.
What has changed?
“He was fit coming in this time around,” Schmid said. “His preseason was good in terms of he had gotten games in (during his two-month loan to Fulham of the English Premier League). … He knows where his house is, he knows how to get around to places — all things that make you feel comfortable. And the players knowing him; all that helps.”
Dempsey agreed: “I’m feeling fresh. Also credit to the team for giving me good looks in front of goal. I’m feeling confident in front of goal and able to finish chances.”
Midfielders Brad Evans (calf) and Andy Rose (hamstring) trained Tuesday, but their availability for Seattle’s Saturday match at Chivas USA is yet to be determined. … Former Sounder Sammy Ochoa was named USL Pro player of the week Tuesday after recording two goals and an assist in Wilmington’s 4-3 win over Pittsburgh. Ochoa played in Seattle from 2011-13.