The Portland Timbers rose to the occasion for today’s rivalry match against the Seattle Sounders, taking the lead late in the first half and never letting go en route to a 3-1 victory that moves them back above the red line in the Western Conference.
The first half was chock full of chances for both side, with Lucas Melano and Jordan Morris both missing shots from the center of the box, and Brad Evans clearing a Darlington Nagbe shot off the line with his head.
The Timbers would get their breakthrough in the final minute of the half, however, opening the scoring in the 44th minute. With the Sounders pressing forward, the Timbers were able to get the ball clear and find Lucas Melano out wide on the left sideline. Bringing the ball down, the Timbers’ speedster took off down the flank.
As Melano approached the Sounders’ box and the visitors’ defense collapsed on him, he was able to play a simple pass to find Diego Valeri streaking through the center. With the ball at his feet and space in which to operate, Valeri was able to take a touch toward the center of the pitch, before firing off a driven shot at the far post that skipped by the dive of Stefan Frei and rippled the back of the net, giving the Timbers a 1-0 lead going into the half.
The Timbers would extend their lead early in the second half and once again it was Valeri getting on the scoresheet. After a long switch from Jermaine Taylor, Valeri was able to bring the ball down on the right flank and fight his way around the tackle of Sounders full back Joevin Jones. With the ball bouncing in front of him and almost no angle on goal, Valeri hit an audacious side-footed volley that dipped over Frei and into the side netting to put the Timbers up 2-0.
With plenty of time yet to play, the Sounders were not out of it there, however, and a series of corner kicks would finally see the visitors break through. On their eleventh corner of the night in just the 59th minute, Andreas Ivanschitz hit a ball that dropped perfectly in the Timbers box for the head of center back Chad Marshall who hit a thumping header that Gleeson could not get a hand to, pulling the Sounders back within one.
The Timbers would reclaim their two goal lead just five minutes later as Melano once again carried the ball down the pitch. Picking up the ball deep in the Timbers’ half, Melano brought the ball all the way to the Sounders box, before drawing the defense to him and dishing a simple pass to Fanendo Adi. With Frei scrambling on his goal line, Adi swept a bouncing ball back across the face of goal to finish off the move and give the Timbers a 3-1 lead.
After reclaiming their two goal buffer, the Timbers changed tactics drastically. While much of the match had featured quick counters down the pitch, the Timbers were now looking to hold the ball and dictate the tempo of the match, which is exactly what they did for the final half-hour until the final whistle.
The Timbers are at home again for their next match as they host the LA Galaxy on Saturday, July 23rd.