Clint Dempsey scored twice in the second half Thursday as the Seattle Sounders defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 to win their Western Conference semifinal.
Vancouver and Seattle played to an uneventful scoreless draw in the first leg of the two-game aggregate series on Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium in a match that set a Major League Soccer playoff record for attacking futility with just one combined shot on target.
Dempsey beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic from the top of the penalty in the 56th minute on a soggy night at CenturyLink Field after a clever backheel from Will Bruin glanced off teammate Harry Shipp before landing on the boot of the U.S. international.
The Sounders striker then iced the game in the 88th minute after getting in front of Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey and tapping in a cross from substitute Victor Rodriguez.
Dempsey returned to the starting lineup after getting sent off in Seattle’s regular-season finale. The 34-year-old could have been banned another game or two for the elbow that resulted in the red card, or his sarcastic applause directed at the referee before slowly leaving the pitch, but escaped further reprimand.
Seattle will now meet either the Portland Timbers or the Houston Dynamo in the West final. Those teams also played to a scoreless draw in the first leg, with the return match set for Portland on Sunday.