Sounders forward Clint Dempsey took another step toward being able to compete during the regular season, playing the entire first half of his team’s 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in a scrimmage in Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday.
Dempsey played just 30 minutes of his team’s preseason opener on Saturday, so the additional 15 minutes was a positive step.
Still, he was kept off the field in the second half as the Sounders continue to ease him slowly back into games.
Dempsey hasn’t played a regular-season game since late August, after which he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. A big test of his ability to come back from that will be whether he can sit down at halftime and then resume playing a second half at full speed.
Harry Shipp, as expected, sat the game out as he recovers from twisting an ankle late in Saturday’s win over Portland.
On Tuesday, the Sounders had a pair of solid scoring chances in the first half as Nicolas Lodeiro’s strike off a free kick was batted away at the last instant by San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham. Late in the half, first-round draft pick Brian Nana-Sinkam had a chance in close after a nifty three-way series of passes but put his shot over the net.
Things got physical near the half’s end as Cameroonian midfielder Nouho Tolo went up aggressively on a header, earning the wrath of San Jose veteran Chris Wondolowski — who leaned over and yelled something in the youngster’s face. Cristian Roldan immediately got between the pair and cooler heads prevailed.
The Sounders switched netminders in the second half as Tyler Miller – who had played 135 consecutive minutes this preseason in Stefan Frei’s absence – took a seat and Bryan Meredith was sent on. Meredith had little chance on the game’s only goal in the 59th minute as Cordell Cato’s shot was partially deflected and rang off the post and in.
Three Sounders academy players – Sam Rogers, Jake Morris and Shandon Hopeau – played in the second half.
The scrimmage concluded the Arizona portion of the Sounders camp. They head back to Seattle on Wednesday and then move on to Charleston, South Carolina, next week for three more exhibition games.
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