It didn't take Clint Dempsey very long to acclimate to the confines of MLS after being on World Cup duty captaining the U.S. national team.
Dempsey scored a 71st-minute goal to break a scoreless deadlock and help the Seattle Sounders to a 2-0 win over the rival Portland Timbers Sunday night in front of a packed house at CenturyLink Field in his first game back from Brazil. He scored two goals at the World Cup, tallying 29 seconds in against Ghana and then again to give the USA a 2-1 lead over Portugal in a game the Americans wound up settling for a draw.
To get back on the board for the Sounders, an unmarked Dempsey instinctively and athletically redirected home a Gonzalo Pineda wayward shot by the right post. The goal is the fourth Dempsey has scored against Portland this season, going along with his hat trick in a wild 4-4 draw on April 5.
The sequence started when Dempsey had an effort off a free kick stuffed by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, but after the second of Ricketts' point-blank saves was temporarily cleared, Pineda wound up with a free look from outside the box.
Marco Pappa added an insurance tally in the final minutes to help Seattle to a league-best 38 points through 18 games (12-4-2). Rival Portland, meanwhile, sits in second-to-last place in the Western Conference (4-6-9, 21 points), but only four points behind Vancouver for fifth place and the final playoff spot.
Watch Dempsey's ninth goal of the MLS season below: