Instead, the battered Sounders looked sluggish for most of the game, Dempsey couldn’t find the back of the net after coming in off the bench, and Seattle failed to build off a massive midweek win over West-leading Vancouver in a 2-0 loss to the host Philadelphia Union on Sunday.
“The first half we dug ourselves a hole,” Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer said, “and I have to look at it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Schmetzer was pleased with the team’s response in the second half, thanks in large part to the insertion of Dempsey and Henry Wingo into the lineup. Dempsey finished with seven shots, including three on target, but couldn’t get any past standout goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Afterwards, Schmetzer explained the reason he decided to bring Dempsey off the bench after five straight 90-minute games for the striker who departed for US national team camp after the game.
“Three games in a week is tough for a lot of guys,” the Sounders coach said. “Before this week, Clint and I spoke and the two conference games were more important so that’s why we played him on Saturday-Wednesday. But he was going to feature in this game at some point. That was the plan.”
The Sounders starting lineup looked different in other ways too as key players Osvaldo Alonso (quad) and Roman Torres (knee inflammation) were left home to nurse injuries. Schmetzer said Torres should be back soon — bad news for USMNT fans hoping he might miss Friday’s massive US-Panama World Cup qualifier (7 pm ET; ESPN2, Univision, UDN) — but that Alonso’s quad strain may be a “little more of an issue.”
Meanwhile, Cristian Roldan played Sunday’s game sporting a huge cast after breaking his arm — an injury that slowed him down all day.
“That’s another one I gotta do some soul-searching,” Schmetzer said. “Cristian is such a tough kid and I think he’s Superman and at times maybe we should have had a guy who was 100 percent. Playing with a broken arm is not easy and you could tell he couldn’t do the things he normally does. So I gotta own that one as well.”
Roldan admitted that playing with a cast was tough, as was the cross-country flight and the early 1 pm ET start for a Western Conference team.
So he’s naturally looking forward to the two-week international break so he can heal and other teammates can rest heading into Seattle’s final two games as the defending champs jockey with Vancouver, Portland and Sporting Kansas City for that coveted top-two seed in the West.
“For us, we want to get that bye,” Roldan said. “It’s tough because we have a few guys injured and it would be nice to get that first-round bye and play at home. But, at the same time, we have to think about making the playoffs first.”