The Seattle Sounders returned to health and returned to the winners’ circle.
Among the players returning from injury tonight were starting forwards Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, and they combined for the lone goal as the Sounders beat the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, before a crowd of 39,860 at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders played the final 31 minutes shorthanded, after Gonzalo Pineda was sent off with a straight red card.
Seattle moved to 2-1-1 on the season, while Houston fell to 1-2-2.
In addition to Dempsey and Martins, Chad Marshall also returned after missing the scoreless draw at Dallas last weekend, and Osvaldo Alonso made his season debut after recovering from a groin issue.
However, Andy Rose started at midfield in place of Marco Pappa, who returned late in the week from duty with the Guatemala national team. And Dylan Remick started at the left back spot that had been held by Leo Gonzalez, in what was apparently a coach’s decision. Gonzalez came on as a sub for Dempsey as the Sounders played out the final minutes.
The restored lineup paid off in the 39th minute, when Martins took a pass from Dempsey at the top of the box, ran down the left side, including a 360-degree spin past defender Jermaine Tylor, and then finished to the back of the net.
That ended a 215-minute scoreless streak by Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric.
In the 59th minute, Pineda was sent off after a kick to the chest of Houston’s Ricardo Clark.
The Sounders return to MLS play April 12 at MLS Cup champion Los Angles.
73' Zach Scott in for Osvaldo Alonso.
56' Straight red to Pineda for kick into chest of Houston's Ricardo Clark.
Second half: ... under way. No changes.
Halftime: Sounders, 1-0. Shots 3-3; on target 1-1; corners 4-1 HOU; duels won 57.4% SEA; pass accuracy, 74.9-72.7% SEA; possession 53.3% SEA.
40' GOAL SOunders. Obafemi Martins took ball around the top of the box, did 360 spin runing thru box, and finished like a man used to finishing. Dempsey assist. Seattle, 1-0.
Sounders have six goals this season: three Dempsey, three Martins.
26' David Horst in for Houston, replacing Raul Rodriguez who got hit in head in collision with his own keeper in front of goal.
First 15: Scoreless. No real good chances. Houston being aggressive in 4-5-1. Crowd has filled in much more typically.
First kick: Has been struck. We're under way. Sounders in rave/blue; Dynamo in orange/white.
Lineups: For Sounders Frei; Mears, Evans, Marshall, Remick; Rose, Alonso, Pineda, Neagle; Dempsey, Martins. Reserves: Perkins, Scott, Gonzalez, Azira, Kovar, Pappa, Barrett.
For Houston: GK Deric; D Sarkodie, Taylor, Rodriguez, Beasley; M Garcia, Clark, Garrido, Sturgis, Davis; F Barnes. Reserves: Willis, Bruin, Hoffman, Horst, López, Lovejoy, Miranda.
So, welcome back Dempsey, Oba and Marshall. And a very welcome season debut for Osvaldo Alonso. The interesting move -- apparently unrelated to injury -- is Dylan Remick sliding in for Leo Gonzalez.
Pregame: It's a near-perfect day at CenturyLink Field about two hours before the Sounders and Dynamo return to MLS action.
First kick is set for 7. The game will be shown on Channel 13 and heard on 97.3 FM. We'll have the blog going before, during and after, and we'll have additional updates and comments on Twitter @donruiztnt.