In the end, it was Dempsey who bested his USMNT teammate, scoring a brace in the Sounders’ 3-1 Fourth of July win.
“He’s been so consistent throughout his career at the highest level, whether it’s in Europe, with the national team or if he’s playing here [in Colorado],” Dempsey said of Howard. “You’re going to have to be at your best if you’re going to get one past him and 975547603" tabindex="0">tonight was my night.”
The match also marked a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Championship between Colorado and Seattle. Neither Dempsey nor Howard were available for that series, with Howard nursing a groin injury and Dempsey sidelined after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
975547604" tabindex="0">On Tuesday night, Dempsey looked like he had never left, scoring his first brace in league play since a 3-1 win against Portland on Aug. 21, 2016.
“You guys saw it tonight,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “The four games that we had with him last year, we were pretty good then too. He’s overcome a lot of the challenges he’s had to face and we’re just happy to have him.”
Dempsey has also been given a boost from his attacking partnership with Will Bruin. The pair are the top two goalscorers for the Sounders this season and both forwards had a hand in each of Seattle’s three goals against Colorado.
“I think what you have there is you have Will who does a lot of the heavy lifting and Clint brings that quality, so it’s a good combination,” explained Schmetzer.
After Colorado had made a game of it with a Dominique Badji strike in the 78th minute, Bruin set Dempsey up for a dagger which sealed the win for Seattle – a world class upper 90 strike with which Howard could do little.
“I already knew what I was going to do with it and I was able to put it on frame,” said Dempsey. “Will is so dominant up top for us and was giving me opportunities off of those flick-ons.”
The win propelled the defending MLS Cup Champions back into playoff positioning. The Sounders are hoping the momentum continues past the upcoming international break.
“It’s huge to get points and move up the table,” said Dempsey. “We’re not where we want to be but we’re hoping this gets us going a bit more.”