Clint Dempsey celebrated his 35th birthday early.
Dempsey, whose birthday is March 9, scored the lone tally in the Seattle Sounders FC’s 1-0 victory over C.D. Guadalajara — otherwise known as “Chivas” — at CenturyLink Field.
Dempsey’s goal was the first in the CONCACAF Champions League. With the recent injury to striker Jordan Morris, the veteran striker’s workload is expected to increase.
Clint Dempsey’s Strike Leads Seattle Sounders Past Chivas in First Leg of CCL Quarters
After the match, Dempsey told reporters that it was an “open game” going “back-and-forth.”
“They fought hard and went for it and so did we,” Dempsey said. “Disappointed not to get more goals, I felt like I could have done better on two more of those opportunities but still happy with the win and the result.”
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer complimented Dempsey but said that he knows the goal scorer will look back on shots that just missed the back of the net.
“He’s ruing his other chances,” Schmetzer said. “He’s a goal scorer, so those things will affect him. It was another good performance. He gets himself in good spots and when he gets one or two chances he’ll put it away.”
The Sounders took the 1-0 lead from Dempsey in the 78th minute. In total, Seattle took 18 shots and forced Chivas goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota to make four saves.
On the opposite end, Chivas took 12 shots with four on goal, all saved by Stefan Frei.
Schmetzer called it an “entertaining match” during his post-game press conference.
“As a soccer fan, I loved it,” Schmetzer said. “Both teams came out and played at a very, very high tempo. What I was most proud about was this was the third game in six days for Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Nicolás Lodeiro and Will Bruin. They put it in and that was impressive. A lot of times, you might feel tired, but they had the mental strength, mental toughness to play at that high tempo.”
Schmetzer also complimented the atmosphere. CenturyLink Field was filled with plenty of Chivas fans hollering alongside the Sounders fans.
However, Schmetzer said he thought Seattle’s fans were louder.
“Certainly the Chivas fans in the building made some noise,” Schmetzer said. “I think it added to the atmosphere. The entire game, even in warm-ups, the fans were going back and forth. It was good.”
Despite the late 1-0 lead, Schmetzer said that Seattle tried for more goals and did not intentionally sit back and strictly shift to defense.
Schmetzer proclaimed that the Sounders tried for more goals to get a better margin going into the second leg.
“I thought there were a couple half chances where we were getting after counter attacks and tried to score,” Schmetzer said. “Certainly our guys were a little tired after the match. It was not intentional for us to sit back at 1-0 because we thought that was enough. We wanted to score multiple times to give us a better chance.”
“We understand we have a difficult task ahead of us.”
The road past the quarterfinals will take Seattle to Mexico, specifically to the Estadio Chivas in Guadalajara, for the second leg match on March 14. Schmetzer and Dempsey both expressed hope that their fans would fill up seats in Mexico.
However, if they can’t make the trip down south, Schmetzer isn’t worried.
“As far as the stadium is concerned, we have been in big stadiums around the world,” Schmetzer explained. “We understand that it’s going to be difficult, but a lot of times, players on both teams can be inspired by the energy — even if it’s the home crowd.”
In addition to the 1-0 lead against Chivas, the Sounders do not have an MLS match in between the matches. To midfielder Cristian Roldan, the schedule is a positive.
“It’s not where we’ll play a team in between and lose focus or lose track of how they’re doing and what they’re playing,” Roldan said. “We have two games after one-another. We can take that film, really analyze it and take it into their game. It’s quarterfinals at this point.”
“We’re six games away from winning the trophy,” Roldan continued. “It’s a win or go home type of game.”
Simply put, Schmetzer said that the miniature MLS break is positive for planning and preparation.
“One week is better than two days.”
The match against Chivas on March 14 is slated to begin at 11 p.m. ET.