I have been putting off this recap for a few days because it is a loss that stung. It stung because now Portland needs help in order to retain the Cascadia Cup and any loss to the Sounders always stings. However after letting my emotions settle down I think there are a lot more positives than people may think.
The Timbers are a much improved team
All you have to do go back to last year and rewatch the last time the Portland Timbers went up to play the Seattle Sounders. Last season and this season the Timbers came into the match undermanned and on a slight downward trajectory. Unlike last year Portland was in this game from the opening whistle and had their chances to score the first goal. Last year the Timbers were lucky if they got it out of their own half.
The Timbers have been in every game
Building a contender takes time but the first step is to be in a position to earn points in every game. The Timbers have taken that step and they have not lost by more than 1 goal all season. Last year their were 8 times Portland lost by 2+ goals. I remember most of those losses you knew in the first 15 minutes it was over.
Portland is still a good team
The Timbers were playing on the road in front of a large crowd, against a team motivated to show they are a good team and playing a depleted lineup. Yet they still managed to look like a dangerous team in the first half and did not allow the 8 million dollar man to get anything going. When players start to return from injuries and from suspensions Portland will be just fine.
Portland has found a promising right back
Even though he was the man marking Eddie Johnson on the set piece which he scored on Alvas Powell has looked very promising. (He never should have been marking EJ in the first place. Someone else failed to recognize the mismatch) He has the speed to be able to join the attack and then recover to a defensive position and he has some attacking instincts. If he can find improve his crosses and clean up some of the defensive mistakes the Timbers will be set at that position for a few years.
The Timbers will still make the playoffs
There are 8 teams in contention for a playoff spot. San Jose is just not playing well enough right now and Dallas is in a free fall. I would bet those two teams are on the outside looking in at the end of the year. The third team to not make the playoffs might be the Colorado Rapids. They currently have one of the toughest schedules to end the year as they play playoff teams in each of the remaining weeks. You also have to keep in mind that Portland still plays Chivas twice and Toronto.
Think big picture
Caleb Porter has had his hands on this team for a year now and the Timbers have been his sole focus for only 10 months. With that in mind just imagine what the team will be like after another off-season and a full year of playing Caleb's system. Turning the club around was always going to be a process that was going to take some time and there will be rough patches.