Dempsey’s last-minute PK lifts Sounders past Minnesota

Published 6:20 pm Monday, August 21, 2017

SEATTLE — Last moments of the game. Ball on the penalty spot. One shot to win it.

Clint Dempsey has been there before and done that. And he came through again.

Dempsey converted a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time, lifting the Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United on Sunday night.

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A corner kick by Seattle’s Joevin Jones floated into the box, and Minnesota’s Jermaine Taylor was called for a hand ball in a scrum of players battling for possession. Dempsey stepped up and drilled his kick to the right side past Loons goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the fourth minute of stoppage.

“You practice it in training to step up to make those type of shots,” Dempsey said. “I just wanted to hit it hard and low, and I took it quick to kind of throw him off. He still got a hand to it, so maybe I didn’t hit it as clean as I wanted to.

“But I felt comfortable with it, my legs felt good, and I was happy when it hit the back of the net.”

The goal was Dempsey’s 11th of the year, and seventh in his last 11 appearances.

Referee Ismail Elfath blew the final whistle as soon as Minnesota kicked off.

Chad Marshall also scored for the Sounders (11-7-7), who tied a club record by extending their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). The team had an identical 6-0-3 mark from May 28-July 16, 2011.

Seattle was forced to rally after its club-record shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a goal by Minnesota’s Ethan Finlay in the 21st minute.

Finlay caught up to a well-placed through ball by Ibson, got behind the Sounders’ defense, and easily beat goalkeeper Stefan Frei from 10 yards straight in front. That was his first goal of the year, coming in his debut with the Loons since being acquired from Columbus in a trade on Aug. 9.

It also was the first goal conceded by Seattle since the 50th minute of a 4-3 victory over D.C. United on July 19. Included in those 421 shutout minutes was a 4-0 rout of the Loons on Aug. 5 in Minneapolis.

“We knew they were going to come out with energy,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “They scored the first goal, bunkered in defensively, and they defended well for large parts of the game.

“One of the hallmarks of this team last year was they found different ways to win different games. That mindset hasn’t been lost on this group,” Schmetzer added.

Marshall pulled Seattle even in the 31st minute. Nicolas Loderio curled in a free kick from the right wing side of penalty area, just 2 yards up from the goal line. Marshall, stationed at the near post just inside the 6-yard box, nodded it past Shuttleworth into the right corner for his first of the year.

The Loons (6-14-4, 22 points) are still looking for their first road win of the season. They are 0-8-2 away from home.

“I can’t fault their effort. I was pleased with a lot of aspects of their game tonight,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “I’m disappointed that the players haven’t got something to show for all of their hard work. They deserved a little bit more than that.

As for whether he agreed with the last-second PK call, Heath added, “I’ll have to see it again.”