The Portland Timbers really came out strong and finally got the start they wanted/needed, scoring two early goals in the first half. The second half was a different story, as the Seattle Sounders started out strong and got one back. But Portland hung on for the win 2-1.
I have to get this out of the way right now, Seattle's uniforms make them look like Sour Patch Kids -- so ugly. With that out of the way on to the recap, Portland and Seattle came out with a lot of energy and the ball flew around the park. Probably the fastest start to a game for both teams I have ever seen. Within the first five minutes each team had already won one corner kick and had two half chances.
After the first five minutes Portland really settled into a great rhythm offensively and worked the ball down either sideline, attacking the outside backs for Seattle. When Portland did lose the ball, Seattle did little with it and gave away a lot of balls because of errant passes, especially in the final third. With the sustained attack, Portland won a corner due to the hard work of Mike Fucito in the 10th minute.
On the subsequent corner Daivd Horst found himself wide open and hit a beautiful header towards goal. Four inches lower and it would have been a goal, as it bounced off the woodwork straight to Captain Jack Jewsbury. It came off so hard that Captain Jack only had time to throw is knee in front of it and hit the ball wide of the goal.
The header was a sign of things to come and just added to the energy of the crowd and the Timbers. For the next 5 minutes Portland won the ball, passed it out to the wings, and really applied pressure. Seattle, on the other hand, was still having trouble in the final third.
The pressure by Portland paid of in the 16th minute, on what might be the best build up to a goal since early in the year. Here is the sequence of the play: Futty Danso won the ball and passed it to Diego Chara, to Darlington Nagbe, to Steven Smith, long ball to Fucito, lay off to Franck Songo'o, square to Nagbe, back pass to Chara, one dribble, outside to Songo'o, inside to Nagbe, back outside to Smith, down the line to Songo'o, overlap to Smith, first time cross through the legs of the defender to wide open Kris Boyd. Goal.
I loved writing that sequence; it was even prettier to watch the third and fourth time.
After the goal, the energy of the Portland Timbers went from a 10 to an 11. Even though no chances came over the next 10 minutes, Portland did control much of the possession and cut off all service to Seattle's forwards. With the momentum squarely in Portland's corner, there was a feeling of more goals to come.
The feeling was finally confirmed in the 25th minute. A deep throw-in was won, and the ball was at the feet of Kalif Alhassan who hit a great cross to Boyd, who once again was behind the defense, but his header was pushed over the bar by the Seattle keeper, Andrew Weber. On the resulting corner, Horst again went unchallenged by a Seattle player, and this time he made Seattle pay. He pounded his header down into the ground, and it bounced in between the goalie and the man on the post -- exactly how you score on a corner.
Once the second goal went in, it looked like Seattle finally looked around and said to themselves "Oh, we are playing a game that actually counts?!?!" Slowly but surely momentum seemed to swing towards Seattle, with four shots and one Perkins save in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Luckily, Portland was able to see the half out and get a much needed break.
The second started out like the first half ended with a lot of play occurring in Portland's end. In spite of that, Portland really was able to stifle any and all balls to the forwards and won every cross from the wings. Something that really killed Portland's momentum was a hamstring injury to Kalif, and apparently when he was laying on the ground in the 53rd minute writhing in pain he fouled someone and deserved a yellow card. Yep you read that right, he got a yellow card because of a foul in the 53rd minute.
I have watched the replay of that point when KAH is beaten easily by Osvaldo Alanso who hit a beauty of a shot that had to be pushed over the bar by Troy Perkins. After the ball went safely over the bar, he turned to the bench and gave the international "Sub me please!" signal. He then lay down on the ground so he wouldn't be a hindrance on the corner. The ref then gave him a yellow after he was picked up by the training staff and helped off the field. This is the really dumb part: the ref then had Seattle take the corner. How is a corner awarded but a yellow given for a foul? I guess all you can say is, that is MLS reffing for you.
In the 58th minute, the game got interesting -- or more nerve wracking, depending on if you had a rooting interesting in the game or not. Song'o played Fucito into the box with an amazing pass -- hard to describe, but he put his right leg behind his left and hit the pass into the top of the box to an open Fucito. Unfortunately Fucito then skied the shot over the bar, but still, it was an amazing pass. Then off of the goal kick Seattle kept possession and found Eddie Johnson on the Timbers' left side.
Horst tried to poke the ball away by sticking his leg out in front of Johnson but completely missed the ball. This allowed Johnson to get behind him and into the box. As Horst was trying to recover, Johnson easily beat him by cutting the ball back to the corner of the box. He hit a left footed screamer to the far corner of the goal. All I could think to myself at this time was "great, here we go again!"
Portland and Seattle then settled into a back and forth affair over the next 15 minutes, with seven shots but only one save between the two teams. During those 15 minutes, numerous times Seattle and Portland players came together to discuss their differences in a calm and collected manner. After numerous discussions someone finally decided to do something about it.
Our old pal Fredy Montero, who somehow could bump into the ref on numerous occasions without repercussions, decided to show how much of a man he was and blindsided David Horst. Nah, I can't do it, that is not exactly what happened. Fredy Montero pushed David Horst when he wasn't looking -- because he was getting in an argument with Eddie Johnson -- and Horst fell down. The assistant referee saw this exchange and called a foul. The push got Lovel Palmer riled up, and he elbowed Johnson in the head. This then got everyone riled up.
I must admit, as much as I really really liked seeing it, I am not sure Montero deserved a red card (a yellow for sure). Palmer did deserve one for his elbow, and maybe Eddie Johnson should be suspended for his part, but I don't think it will happen. Either way it really looked like a rivalry on the field for the first time in MLS game between Portland and Seattle.
After the red cards and everyone's disagreements were figured out, the referee awarded the free kick for the push on Montero, and in the 92nd minute 6 minutes of extra time was added. During that 6 minutes Portland bunkered and Seattle continued to lob ball after ball forward in hopes of creating something. The Timbers were able to deal with everything Seattle threw at them, and Perkins made one final save in the 97th minute, off a header right right to him.
Once the whistle blew the crowd erupted, and Futty Danso fell to the ground, celebrating his first win over the Sounders while playing for the Portland Timbers. I love this feeling!
- Songo'o and Smith are an awesome combo offensively
- I hope KAH is ok because he was a major part of the offense in the first half.
- Nagbe was great despite not having his name called a lot, he really kept possession and because of this helped create the first goal.
- The Crowd was amazing! The Tifo was too.
- You have to watch Spencer's post game video when I post it later. He has some great comments on the fight.