The game started with a lot of question marks, with Gavin Wilkinson opting for a couple of retreads as the outside backs. Lovel Palmer and Rodney Wallace were brought on to shore up the back line and provide offensive support. The effects of those two changes were evident early on as Christian Tiffert constantly attacked Palmer and Sal Zizzo on the left and created 3 half chances and Seattle won 3 corners in the first 10 minutes.
Portland did not have any kind of offensive display until the 15th minute and this was largely due to an injury break which broke up Seattle's offensive rhythm. Bright Dike and Jhon Hurtado hit heads while going for a long ball, and, while Hurtado lay on the ground for a couple of minutes, Dike was up and running after a few seconds. Both players required medical attention but Hurtado came away with 8 stitches.
Portland took advantage of the stoppage of play and seemed to reorganize themselves, bringing about their best chances of the first half. In the 17th minute Portland won a corner due to some hard work from Dike in chasing down a ball. On that corner Wallace found himself wide open in the box with no one near him, but he was unable to keep the header on frame and pushed it wide of the goal.
Seattle was able to then push the ball up the field, but Portland came back down immediately with a long kick from Donovan Ricketts to Dike. Dike was able to shield the ball past one defender and then raced to the box with another defender working to close him down. Dike's angle was not the best one but he was able to get a shot off which bounced off of Micheal Gspurning. The rebound was then played out for another Portland corner.
After that offensive spurt of 10 minutes Portland's defense seemed to be become non-existent. In the 25th minute Seattle played a combination of passes which seemed to confuse Wallace, and his last ditch effort to block a pass out wide was ineffective. With Seattle players behind the defense, David Horst tried to cover for Wallace but was unable to get there in time, while Futty had good position on Fredy Montero when the cross came in. Futty tried to block the cross but instead of stopping it or getting it over the corner he hit the perfect shot into the upper corner of the far post.
The bleeding didn't stop, as three minutes later Seattle struck again. This time it was a complete defensive breakdown. Horst moved to cover a midfield runner, Christian Tiffert, while Futty was still facing the ball on the right of Portland's defense. Palmer was in front of Brad Evans, who had the ball, but did not close him down, letting Evans hit a perfect cross to wide open Eddie Johnson, who was standing in the space vacated by Horst. Someone did not cover for Horst, who had a tough choice of following the dangerous run or staying with Johnson.
From that point on you could see Portland was just praying they would get to half time only 2-0 down and look to make some changes. Two minutes later disaster almost struck again for Portland. Fredy Montero found himself in the top right corner of the box with space and hit a curling shot to the far post that Ricketts made a diving finger tip save on to push the ball into the post. If Ricketts hadn't put a hand on that Portland would have gotten blown out and it would have been a repeat of Dallas away.
To Portland's credit they did try and get something going and in the final 5 minutes of the half. They created a couple of chances that would have pulled them back into the game, but as the saying goes, "Good teams finish their chances". Each of Portland's chances were right at Gspurning for easy saves. The only other action at the end of the half was another injury created by Dike.
Dike and Jeff Parke both rose up for a header and this time Dike hit the side of Parke's head with the back of his. Dike rubbed the back of his head while Parke was gushing blood from his and had to have his stapled during half time. Portland went into the half down 2-0.
The only change to the line-up was replacing Sal Zizzo with Mike Fucito and going to a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-3-2-1. This did not inject the energy and offensive spark that was needed for Portland to climb back into this game. In fact neither team looked like they were going to create a chance in this half until Portland had another defensive breakdown in the 62nd minute. This time Ricketts made a good initial save, but his defenders were unable to help him out and clear away the rebound.
Seattle from that point on was content to sit back and allow Portland time on the ball to possess it in their own half. Portland's players didn't move off the ball and therefore Seattle was able to keep Portland out of the attacking third by just standing in the passing lanes and waiting for Portland to pass it to them. When Portland did get a chance to get a shot off it was almost always from outside the box and the shot was either blocked or was an easy save.
Portland did make two more subs with Eric Brunner and Eric Alexader coming on for Nagbe and Futty. Neither sub had any impact on the game, as the outcome was already decided by the time they came in. Mercifully, Portland did not give up another goal, but, well, avoiding going down by four certainly isn't anything for the traveling Timbers Army to cheer about.
- $40 for parking at or near the stadium!?!?!?! Heard rumors it was $100 for the Monday night football game a few weeks back. WOW.
- Now for some things to laugh about: The Jumbotron told the fans to raise their scarves, the words of the national anthem, and that their infamous Seattle Sounders call and respond chant was sponsored by Taco Bell.
- Portland flat out stunk in this game and deserved the result they got. Hard part is that the goals really seemed self-inflicted -- Seattle did little work to get them.
- I saw more passes to the other team from certain players than I have ever seen. That will happen, of course, when teammates refuse to move off the ball.
- Alex Lalas was saying Caleb Porter will be focusing on winning the Cascadia Cup next year... Does this mean playoffs are out of the question?
- It was a very disheartening loss and hopefully something is learned from it, I don't expect a lot to come from it though. Even I am losing faith....