ESPN FC News-Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey returned to play his first game since August in the Seattle Sounders' preseason clash with the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.

Dempsey played 30 minutes as the Sounders opened their preseason schedule with a 1-1 draw against their rivals in Tuscon, Arizona.

The U.S. forward had been sidelined since last summer by an irregular heartbeat and only recently returned to training with the Sounders. 

The ailment caused him to miss the end of the 2016 season -- including the Sounders' run to the the MLS Cup title, and Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said the team is now easing him back toward full strength.

"His recovery is going as scheduled. That was 30 minutes," Schmetzer said, according to "We couldn't give him anymore.

"Next game we'll ramp him up a little more. We'll have to get doctors' clearance. We're taking it very carefully."

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