Straight off a PDX runway and still recovering from a grueling international match for the U.S. national team, Clint Dempsey came into Saturday's Seattle-Portland clash facing a severe incline.
Still, the Sounders forward managed to produce a statement game. He surpassed his previous career goal total with Seattle with a hat trick that lifted the visitors to a 4-4 draw at Providence Park.
You always feel good when you are contributing, scoring goals, getting assists, so Im in a good rhythm at the moment, and its about continuing that, Dempsey said.
Despite being a vital cog for the U.S., and having played in the Premier League, Dempsey had been less than stellar since signing with the Sounders in August 2013. Plus, he received a two-game MLS suspension last month for punching Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom in the family jewels. Suffice it to say, Dempsey had received considerable criticism.
However, after saving the Sounders from a lopsided loss to the Timbers and an empty-handed trip back to Seattle, his hot seat will likely cool in the state of Washington.
It always feels good to score goals," Dempsey said. "Its always good to score against your rivals, but at the same time, the most important thing is points.
On Wednesday, Dempsey and his fellow Team USA compatriots dominated Mexico in the first half, taking a 2-0 lead. However, they let the lead slip and wound up with a 2-2 draw at Glendale, Ariz.
Because Dempsey played 90 minutes against Mexico and spent part of Saturday traveling, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid expected him to go for only about 60 minutes against the Timbers.
Its always a tough call when you do travel a lot," Dempsey said. "It was only three hours, but if you look at some of the players' history, especially in Seattle, they get off flights and come into the game, and sometimes they happen to pick up injuries.
However, Dempsey eclipsed not only his coachs projection but also even the most optimistic prognostications. His hat trick was the fifth in Sounders history.
Dempsey said he didnt need any extra motivation against the Timbers.
You dont need motivation going against your rivals," he said. "It was a big game for both teams and the fans.
Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlins calculated strategy sparked Dempsey's final goal, which cemented the 4-4 tie.
In the 87th minute, Timbers defender Ben Zemanski collided with Yedlin, giving the Sounders a penalty kick and a chance to complete a two-goal comeback.
If he fouled me or didnt foul me, I was going to try to draw a penalty. Im glad he touched me, Yedlin says.
Both Dempsey and Seattle defender Leonardo Gonzalez wanted to take the PK. Gonzalez conceded and let Dempsey have at it. Of course, Dempseys kick found the back of the net.
Maybe after the game, Ill get him a soda pop. Dempsey joked.