Sounders drop Timbers as Dempsey debuts
SEATTLE — Eddie Johnson flicked a header past Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts off a free kick in the 60th minute, and the Seattle Sounders made Clint Dempsey’s home debut memorable with a 1-0 win Sunday night over the Timbers before the second-largest, stand-alone crowd in Major League Soccer history.
The crowd of 67,385 trailed only the first home game for the Los Angeles Galaxy against New York in 1996 that drew 69,255. It topped the 66,452 that saw Seattle and Portland play last October at CenturyLink Field and was the largest for any match in Seattle, topping a friendly against Manchester United in 2011.
Johnson scored his fourth goal against the Timbers moments after his speed in the open field drew a free kick when he was chopped down by defender Pa Modou Kah. Mauro Rosales’ curling ball into the box found Johnson wide open after he left defender Alvas Powell behind.
It was Johnson’s sixth goal in MLS play. Seattle improved to 35-0-8 in its last 43 games when scoring first and controlled the second half after Portland had the better chances in the first 45 minutes.
The Sounders moved into a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference with 37 points and still have at least one game in hand on the rest of their playoff competition.
Kaepernick, 49ers’ defense strong in win
SAN FRANCISCO — Colin Kaepernick completed six straight passes in his third series of the game and connected on a 5-yard-touchdown toss to Quinton Patton, and Lavelle Hawkins returned a kickoff 105 yards for a score late in the second quarter in San Francisco’s 34-14 preseason victory over Minnesota on Sunday night.
Kaepernick began the game 1 for 7, then converted his next six pass attempts — including four in a row of 10 or more yards — and finished 7 for 13 for 72 yards.
Reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson didn’t touch the ball in one series of action for Minnesota, making his preseason debut as he begins a year in which he will try to become the first player with consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons.
Saints drops Texans
HOUSTON — Houston’s Andre Johnson had 131 yards receiving before halftime in his first extended work of the preseason, and New Orleans’ backups scored two touchdowns in the second half to help the Saints rally.
Johnson didn’t play in the preseason opener and had less than a quarter of work last week.
On Sunday, he grabbed seven of the eight passes thrown to him, highlighted by a 39-yard reception.
Sanchez day-to-day with shoulder injury
NEW YORK — Mark Sanchez’s banged-up right shoulder will keep him out of the New York Jets’ preseason finale. Whether he’s also out of the team’s quarterback competition remains to be seen.
The Jets announced Sunday that Sanchez is “day-to-day” with an injured shoulder that will sideline him for the team’s preseason finale against Philadelphia on Thursday night. Sanchez, competing with rookie Geno Smith for the starting job, was unlikely to play in that game anyway.
The team did not announce the nature or severity of Sanchez’s injury, suffered in the Jets’ 24-21 overtime victory over the Giants on Saturday night.
Sanchez had an X-ray after the game on the shoulder, which apparently revealed no fractures, and an MRI exam Sunday to determine if there’s any damage. The Jets’ announcement indicated that Sanchez likely does not have a season-ending injury.
Steelers rookie Jones released from hospital
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones was released from the hospital on Sunday after being treated for a chest injury.
The team said Sunday that tests were negative, but did not say what tests the first-round pick from Georgia underwent or whether he’ll play in the preseason finale Thursday at Carolina.
Jones was hurt when he fell on the ball at the end of a third-quarter interception that was overturned against the Kansas Chiefs.
Matt Leinart signs with Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Free-agent quarterback Matt Leinart signed with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Leinart fills an immediate need at Buffalo’s injury-depleted quarterback position.
The Bills have only two healthy quarterbacks on their roster — Leinart and undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel — heading into their final preseason game.
Kevin Kolb left the Bills’ game Saturday against Washington because of concussion-like symptoms and first-round pick EJ Manuel is out for the rest of the preseason with a left knee injury.
Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner at Southern California, was drafted by Arizona in the first round in 2006. After four seasons with the Cardinals, he spent 2011 with Houston and last year with Oakland.
Kolb was injured in the first quarter when he was kneed in the helmet following an 8-yard scramble. Coach Doug Marrone said it was too soon to determine how much time Kolb could miss.
The injury-prone quarterback has had issues with concussions in the past, having sustained two in his first six seasons.
After releasing Tarvaris Jackson earlier in the offseason, the Bills hoped Kolb and Manuel would compete for the starting job at training camp but injuries have gotten in the way.
Raiders release return specialist Josh Cribbs
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Kickoff return specialist Josh Cribbs was released by the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in a wave of team cuts.
Cribbs had knee surgery in the offseason and signed with the Raiders after eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns. But the 29-year-old struggled to regain his speed in training camp. He also fumbled a kickoff in Friday’s preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.
Cribbs’ contract was terminated by the Raiders, leaving him free to sign with any team.
Power wins in Sonoma after late Dixon penalty
SONOMA, Calif. — Scott Dixon pulled in for his final pit stop with victory nearly in his grasp.
When he left a few seconds later, two members of Will Power’s crew were sprawled on the asphalt, a tire bouncing wildly in his wake.
Although everybody involved had a strong opinion about what happened, Power knows one thing for certain: He’s leaving wine country with yet another trophy.
Power won at Sonoma Raceway for the third time in four years Sunday, earning his first victory of the IndyCar season by taking advantage of Dixon’s penalty for making contact with Power’s Team Penske pit crew.
Dixon led until he received a drive-through penalty with 15 laps to go for clipping a tire in the left hand of Power’s tire holder when Dixon’s Honda left his pit directly behind Power’s Chevrolet. The tire holder went flying into another crew member, and a third member was injured by an air gun or hose.
By wire sources