By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – Former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe scored twice in the first half of his Major League Soccer debut, and new-look Toronto FC held off the Seattle Sounders 2-1 on Saturday.
Defoe’s debut upstaged the return of U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley to MLS in his first game for Toronto. Defoe and Bradley were the centerpieces of a major offseason makeover by Toronto that also included the acquisition of Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar on loan.
All three made their season debuts against Seattle after Toronto had a bye in the first week of the season. Defoe had the most influence, giving Toronto the lead in the 17th minute, then adding a second seven minutes later off a Seattle turnover.
Clint Dempsey scored in the 68th minute for Seattle.
Bradley’s return to MLS from AS Roma drew the most attention and rightfully so. He was another American standout making the choice to return from Europe to the MLS in the prime of his career, a move similar to what Dempsey made last season leaving Tottenham for Seattle.
But Dempsey’s former Spurs teammate in England gave Toronto the victory.
Defoe came to Toronto about the same time Bradley’s deal was announced. The 31-year-old spent most of his professional career at Tottenham before leaving White Hart Lane for a new opportunity.
Defoe’s first MLS goal was a quick counter when he was able to find space between Seattle defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore. Defoe received a perfect through pass from Jonathan Osorio as he split the defenders and beat Stefan Frei with the right-footed shot.
His second, just seven minutes later, came off a sloppy, careless giveaway by Seattle’s Marco Pappa. Attempting to drop the ball back to a teammate, Pappa’s pass lacked enough force and instead fell directly to Defoe and he deposited his second goal in the first 25 minutes of his MLS career.
Dempsey seemed to become frustrated by the result on the scoreboard and the amount of times he as chopped down in the midfield. The frustration boiled over late in the first half after a foul was called when Dempsey appeared to hit Toronto defender Mark Bloom in the stomach with his right hand. Officials did not see it, but it was caught by numerous television cameras.
Dempsey cut Toronto’s lead in half when he scored midway through the second half off a quick counter that was started by Lamar Neagle and assisted by Obafemi Martins. It was Dempsey’s second goal since joining the Sounders after scoring just once last season. His assist in the opener last week and goal on Saturday match his point production from the 12 appearances he made for Seattle last season.