This past Saturday’s match-up against Seattle meant much more to the Timbers and Sounders than simply another MLS match. It was the first year that Cascadia Cup play between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver occurred in the MLS circuit.
Timbers renew rivalry in 1-1 draw
This past Saturday’s match-up against Seattle meant much more to the Timbers and Sounders than simply another MLS match. It was the first year that Cascadia Cup play between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver occurred in the MLS circuit. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, earning the Timbers only their second point on the road this season in one of the harshest environments in the league at Qwest Field.
The Timbers opened play with the unveiling of the new red alternative jerseys, paying homage to the city of roses. There was not much unexpected play happening on this rainy Saturday night, as both teams battled to get open looks, with none coming easily. The first half began completely in favor of the visiting Timbers, seeming to be unaffected by the 35,000-plus fans in attendance for the Sounders. Portland kept possession throughout most of the half, keeping the Sounders out of shooting range and not allowing them a single shot on goal throughout the first 45 minutes. The Timbers created scoring opportunities on three separate occasions, but Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller was able to stop any shots on frame with ease.
The second half proved to be much more up-tempo for the Sounders, as the home team was explosive out of the gates. Seattle immediately attacked the Timbers defense and in the 52nd minute of play, forward Roger Levesque created a scoring opportunity for the Sounders. Levesque advanced the ball to Fredy Montero who was able to jump and connect a header with Alvaro Fernandez, who then placed an easy kick into the far side of the net, beating Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
The play was nothing short of selfless as three different Sounders touched the ball before scoring. However, Seattle’s celebration wouldn’t last long, as only 12 minutes after the Sounders goal, Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury lined up a free kick towards the center of the field and defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso was able to beat his man, finding the ball and the back of the net with his head to tie the game 1-1 in the 65th minute of play. The free kicks have been the Timbers bread and butter this season, with eight of their 12 goals coming from set pieces in enemy territory.
The goal was the second in as many matches for Futty and puts his total at two scores for the season. Forward Kenny Cooper leads the Timbers this season with three goals and midfielder Kalif Alhassan is tied with Jewsburry in assist total with four apiece.
The rest of the second half was an offensive chess match, with both teams having other scoring opportunities in the closing moments, including a set piece in the 79th minute from Jewsbury, resulting in a shot that was nearly the winning goal for the Timbers.
In the end, the match finished in a draw, leaving both teams somewhat unsatisfied, but overall the result for the Timbers was a strong statement. They played hard in front of a tough crowd and ultimately, earned a point in the standings for a road contest. In their first year of MLS play, the Timbers have shown they are not a team to be underestimated. With a perfect 4-0 home record this year in MLS play and another positive result, the Timbers confidence is continuing to grow.
“We take a lot of confidence with us,” said Timbers head coach John Spencer in a media statement. “They are a good team and we have come up here four months old and played well. We have to start showing that belief we have at home on to the road. I think we should start that tonight.”
The Timbers will have another shot at the Sounders this season when they host their rivals on July 10 in Portland. However, this weekend’s result keeps Portland and Seattle in a tie with 14 points a piece in the West standings, with the Timbers sitting in sixth and the Sounders in fifth place (Seattle gets the nod because of more games played).
In the meantime, Portland returns back home to take on the Columbus Crew this Saturday. The Crew are currently in 4th place in the Eastern conference table with a 4-3-2 record and 13 points overall. The Timbers’ next three games will be played at home, and will likely give them an even larger sense of confidence as the run for the playoffs starts to build. ?