The Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders showed why they have the best rivalry in American Soccer. A lot of back and forth with some physical play was on display in the first half with neither team able to secure a goal. The second half was much the same until Donovan Ricketts was injured and Seattle scored. Portland did fight back and scored the equalizer 10 minutes from time.
Portland really came out with a lot of energy and tried to force Seattle into playing from the back rather than through the middle. For the most part in the first 15 minutes of the game this strategy worked out as Seattle played a lot of long balls by passing their midfield. Portland's CB's and outside backs played the long balls well keeping Seattle away from the goal. While Portland played a high defensive line Seattle seemed to invite Portland to possess the ball in their own half and sat deep.
Seattle sitting deep allowed Portland to pass the ball around to their wings and back to the other side. By switching the field Portland was able to isolate Seattle's outside backs and on occasion get behind the defense. After getting behind the defense the crosses were decent but no able to beat the first defender and find Dike or Chara in the box. Around the 20th minute Seattle finally settled into the game and started to play their style of game.
Momentum switched slowly to Seattle and half chances were created with a lot of the play going through Andy Rose and then to there Dynamic Duo up front. David Horst and Hanyer Mosquera were more than ready to shut down Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero. There were a couple iffy moments but no huge mistake which cost Portland a goal.
Kosuke Kimura on the other hand almost looked like he would have a repeat of last games performance. On several occasions Steve Zakuani blew past Kimura and was able to get a cross off.; None of the crosses were met by a Seattle player in a dangerous position but they did cause defensive confusion.
With both teams equal they went into the half tied at zero.
Portland came out flat and Seattle came out with a little energy and it showed in the first five minutes of the half with most of the play occurring in Portland's defensive third. Slowly but surely Portland started to gain momentum but in the 53rd minute Donovan Ricketts came out to attack a cross destined for Eddie Johnson and punched it clear. His reward for getting to the ball first was an injured shoulder and after giving it a go to stay in getting subbed out in the 57th minute.
Immediately after the sub Michael "I hate vowels" Gspurning hit a long ball to just about the top of Portland's 18 yard box. Eddie Johnson was then able to flick the ball to Montero who collected the ball and hit a shot over Joe Bendik who was screened slightly in the play and not able to get his hand up in time. Once again Horst had his one mistake which cost Portland a goal as he did not challenge Johnson for the first ball. Horst shouldn't receive all of the blame as Mosco was did not fight for the ball and let Montero get off a clean shot. Mosco should have put a little more body into him once he realized Montero was shooting.
Portland did not hang their heads after the goal and picked up their energy and urgency. With the added urgency Portland started to gain momentum and pressured Seattle higher up the field. The higher pressure created more turnovers and forced Seattle to forgo their midfield players and hit a defensible long ball to their forwards.
Portland's urgency led to more attacks going through Darlington Nagbe and down the left side of the field, where Rodney Wallace and Songo'o created numerous opportunities. Some of those opportunities were corner, Portland had 9 on the day, and once Jack Jewsbury realized Songo'o and Zizzo were not having the best day providing service he took over set piece duties.
Captian Jack hit some great corners and placed them just far enough away from Gspurning but close enough to the goal to create chaos. In the 78th minute Captain Jack hit another great corner and this one was just over Osvaldo Alonso and into a pocket of space. Wallace at the same time attacked that space and Johnson who was supposed to be marking him was late to get there. Wallace met the ball and directed the ball on frame, right between the defenders legs and then into the goal.
It was a great goal and even better service from Captain Jack but the game was far from over. In the 88th minute Diego Chara went down with an injury which forced Portland to finish the game with 10 men. Even though they were down to 10 men if you watched the game not knowing that you would not be able to tell as Portland's energy increased as players found a reserve source of energy.
You got the feeling during the 6 minutes of stoppage time that each team was going to have 1 more chance each to net the game winner. Portland's chance came 1 minute into stoppage time and was once again due to the great service on a corner from Captain Jack. Captain Jack hit the ball right in between the penalty spot and the 6 yard box where Horst was waiting. Horst was unable to get a head on it but the ball did bounce off of his defender and him then to the ground. Bright Dike was in the right place at the right time and the ball bounced right to him for a first time shot but his shot hit the post and bounced across the face of the goal.
Seattle's chance came in the final minute of stoppage time. Alonso found himself about 25 yards out and no one around him as he took the long range shot. It was a hard worm burner with traffic in front of goal and had a chance but Bendik was able to get down quickly and coral it without giving up the rebound.
1-1 entertaining game on National TV.
- How have we not found a RB who can consistently? Kimura works hard but has lost his man too often.
- Rodney Wallace had a great game and played well enough defensively but really got forward to create numerous chances and to win corners.
- Captain Jack's Corners were reminiscent of his 2011 service.
- Darlington Nagbe disappeared at times but tracked back late in the game to snuff out Seattle chances
- Portland is still in the driver seat for the Cascadia Cup with a three point lead and two games to go for each team.
- With no Eric Brunner in the game day 18 one has to wonder if he is 100%
- Great to see Kalif Alhassan on pitch again.
- Not the result we all wanted but another step in the right direction for a team who needs some sort of positive this season.