The debut as a Sounders starter for Clint Dempsey went clunk Saturday in Houston as the Seattle defense against the Dynamos fell apart early, leading to a 3-1 defeat after goals from Giles Barnes in the 17th and 21st minutes.
Missing usual starting forwards Eddie Johnson (one-game suspension) and Obafemi Martins (injury), the Sounders started Dempsey, the designated player signed away from the EPL to great fanfare, and Lamar Neagle, but had only three shots on frame. The only goal came off a Marc Burch free kick in the 65th minute when Shalrie Joseph scored out of his first goal as a Sounder.The ensuing tension lasted only 10 minutes until Houston’sWill Bruin scored on ball that slammed off the crossbar.
The Sounders (10-8-4) saw their three-game win streak end on a hot, humid evening in a place they have never won. Houston improved to 10-7-6.
In the 16th minutes, Barnes had a shot on goal that rebounded out to Bruin, who sent a pass backward to Barnes. He faked defender Leo Gonzales and sent a ball across the goal mouth past Michael Gspurning — returning in goal after a four-game injury absence — into the side net of the near post.
Four minutes later, Barnes shocked the Sounders when he found himself untended in the middle of the defense and boomed a shot nearly 35 yards past a diving Gspurning.
Seattle had a 20-16 advantage in shots, and numerous open shots, including two by Dempsey, but couldn’t convert.
The Sounders return to Seattle for the match of the MLS year, a Cascadia Cup duel Aug. 25 against Portland in front of a sold-out Clink awaiting Dempsey’s home debut.