TORONTO, Ontario — The Clint Dempsey era began with a nervy road win for Sounders FC.
The superstar signing was called into action early off the bench, replacing the injured Obafemi Martins in the 34th minute, as Seattle was just able to hold off a charging Toronto FC by a 2-1 score Saturday at BMO Field.
The Sounders (10-7-4) broke a three-game losing streak on the road while winning their third game in a row overall.
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Eddie Johnson redirected a pass from Brad Evans on front of goal, where Mauro Rosales patiently waited for the ball to drop before slamming it into the net.
The goal ended Seattle’s 342-minute scoreless drought on the road, which dated to June 1.
Rosales and Evans have had either a goal or assist in each of their past three games, and Evans matched a career high with five assists on the season.
The Sounders doubled the lead in the 40th minute, when Lamar Neagle made a darting run down the left flank and crossed a ball that was deflected into the net by Toronto defender Doneil Henry.
TFC pulled a goal back in the 46th minute behind midfielder Jonathan Osorio, igniting a crowd of 18,766. His bouncing shot was cleared out of the net by Seattle defender Leo Gonzalez, but not until after it had crossed the goal line in the air.
The hosts nearly equalized in the 60th minute when forward Robert Earnshaw, who leads the team with six goals, slammed a shot off the post just moments after coming in off the bench.
TFC nearly tied the game again in the 66th when a cross was nearly deflected by Gonzalez into his own goal, and even more danger came in stoppage time.
First, Osorio nearly got a dramatic second goal, but his long-range shot whistled just over the crossbar. Then, on the second to last play of the game, Toronto’s Jeremy Brockie got behind the defense but was stopped on a win-preserving save by goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, making his second straight start for the Sounders.
• Sounders FC plays continues a road-heavy stretch at Houston next on Aug. 17.
• Johnson earned a yellow card in the first half for diving, and his accumulation of cautions will lead to a suspension against the Dynamo.
• The Sounders are on a 34-0-8 run when scoring the game’s first goal, the longest active unbeaten streak in the league and 9-0-2 this season. New York holds the record at 58 games.
• Seattle has won five straight against Toronto FC and leads the head-to-head series 6-1-1.