SEATTLE — Clint Dempsey took a week’s break after the World Cup, and he made that rejuvenation count on Sunday.
His goal in the 71st minute put Seattle ahead, 1-0, of the Portland Timbers (4-5-10) and sparked a 2-0 Sounders win in front of 64,207 at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders (12-4-2) have historically performed well in highly attended MLS matches: They are now 10-0-3 all-time in games with more than 40,000 in the stands.
“It was fun to play in front of a crowd like that, 64,000,” Dempsey said. “But it’s more fun when you win in front of a crowd like that.”
Dempsey’s goal was the third chance Seattle had, all within a minute of each other. Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts deflected a corner kick and then an Obafemi Martins rebound shot. A bounce back out to Dempsey seconds later at the top of the circle was fired into the back of the net, giving the Sounders the 1-0 lead.
Fifteen minutes later, in the 86th, Marco Pappa took a Lamar Neagle pass on his left foot and shot it past a waiting Ricketts to make it 2-0 and set the final score.
Seattle started the game with Dempsey, in his first match back from World Cup duty, but the teams rolled into halftime locked in a 0-0 tie, parallel to their situation in Wednesday’s Open Cup match, where Seattle prevailed in extra time, 3-1.
“We were having more control of the game,” Pappa said of the second half, where the Sounders added 13 shot attempts to their first-half total of five.
The Sounders had a couple of close chances early, but did not have a shot on goal in the first half. DeAndre Yedlin fired straight down the end line in the 26th minute, but it was too wide. And in the 42nd minute, Pappa shot with his left foot from the top of the box, and it sailed just over the net.
SEATTLE — The Mariners couldn’t complete the sweep Sunday. They couldn’t help but feel good about themselves, anyway.
Oakland’s Sonny Gray quieted the Mariners’ bats, and the Athletics escaped Safeco Field with a 4-1 victory to enter the All-Star break with the best record in the major leagues.
After stellar starts from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma the previous two days, the Mariners could settle for the series win Sunday. At 51-44, the Mariners enter the break with their best first-half record since 2003. They’re eight games back of the A’s in the AL West but 2 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City and Toronto for the AL’s second wild-card berth.
“We feel good,” All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano said. “We should feel proud of ourselves with this first half.”
They’re not content, though.
“I still think our best baseball’s ahead of us,” veteran right-hander Chris Young said. “We’re pleased with where we are, but we’re not satisfied.”
Young (8-6), the Mariners’ biggest surprise in their surprising first half, breezed through the first four innings before a crowd of 25,944 at sunny Safeco after the Mariners staked him to an early 1-0 lead.
The A’s (59-36) then scratched out two two-out runs in the fifth inning to take the lead, and Brandon Moss added a towering solo home run in the sixth inning in what Young said was his only real mistake pitch of the day.
“They’re a good club. There’s a reason they have the best record in baseball. You give them credit,” Young said.
James Jones, after reaching on a one-out single in the bottom of the first, moved from first to third on Gray’s errant pickoff throw. Two pitches later, Jones scored on Cano’s swinging bunt back to Gray.
The Mariners couldn’t muster much offense after that.
LOUDON, N.H. — For the No. 2, it was his third victory of the season and the fourth in a row for Ford.
Brad Keselowski made it clean sweep at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, adding a victory in Sunday’s Camping World 301 to his Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
The win is the third this season for Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske team and the fourth in a row for Ford Racing. Ford has not won four races in a row since the 2001 season. The win is also the eighth of the season for Ford, the most for the manufacturer since winning 11 times in 2008.
Keselowski easily held off Kyle Busch in a two-lap overtime to earn the race. Rookie Kyle Larson finished third, Matt Kenseth was fourth and Ryan Newman was fifth.
Busch, who started from the pole, took early command of the race and led the first 62 laps.
Jimmie Johnson, who was fast all weekend, suffered two flat left-rear tires in a 13-lap span and the second one sent his No. 48 Chevrolet into the wall on Lap 14.
On the restart on Lap 21, Busch continued to lead the way.
Hamlin got around Busch to take over the lead on Lap 63.
Most teams began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 74. Once the cycle was completed on lap 82, Hamlin returned to the lead followed by Busch and Keselowski.
On Lap 91, Keselowski ran down Denny Hamlin to take the lead.