The Portland Timbers are back to winning ways after a brace from center back Larrys Mabiala and an assist hat-trick from Diego Valeri powered the side to a 3-2 win over their arch-rivals, the Seattle Sounders. The win marks the Timbers’ tenth straight unbeaten match in league play and moves the side into fourth place in the Western Conference.
From the outset, both sides had opportunities to take control of the match, but neither were able to put their stamp on it. The Timbers once again ceded possession, looking to hit out on the counter and work the ball through the center, while the Sounders held the lion’s share of the ball but were forced out wide by the Timbers’ compact defensive shape.
The Sounders had the first real chance of the match in the 12th minute when a long, perfectly weighted through ball from Seattle full back Waylon Francis found the run of Will Bruin in between the Timbers’ center backs. Bruin charged onto the ball on the edge of the Timbers’ area and lunged forward to get a touch on it, poking the ball past a charging Jeff Attinella, only for it roll just wide of the post.
The Timbers had their first real chance of the match in the 20th minute when a turnover released Diego Valeri to hit out on the break. Flanked by Dairon Asprilla and Samuel Armenteros, Valeri waited for the Seattle back line to commit before playing the ball into space for Asprilla. Taking a touch forward, Asprilla hammered a shot on goal at the near post, only for Sounders keeper Bryan Meredith to get both hands behind the ball and push it out of bounds.
On the ensuing corner, Valeri served an out-swinging ball into the box that dropped perfectly for a snap header from Larrys Mabiala. The header was hit hard and headed for goal only for Meredith to get a hand up and make the save.
The Timbers came close again in the 27th minute, when a long throw from Attinella put Asprilla in behind the Sounders back line. Asprilla played the ball into the box for Valeri and Armenteros, but neither could get a clean strike on it and instead Valeri played it back for the late arriving run of Andres Flores out of the midfield. With a moment to weigh his opportunity before being closed down, Flores shot from distance but put his opportunity just over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
With the first half drawing to a close, the Sounders pushed forward looking for an opener and in the 44th minute, they came close. After working the ball around the Timbers box, the Sounders finally put a drop-pass at Cristian Roldan’s feet outside the Timbers box. Roldan struck the ball first time, picking out the far corner of the net only for Attinella to lay out and touch the ball wide, keeping the scoreline at 0-0 as both teams headed to the locker rooms.
After the break, both sides came out swinging. First, in 46th minute, the Sounders sent in an early free kick that found the back post run of Sounders midfielder Victor Rodriguez. Rodriguez headed the ball back across the face of goal only for Attinella to snag it out of the air.
Two minutes later, the Timbers had a spot kick of their own, and Valeri played an out-swinging ball to the far post where Mabiala rose up and put another strong header on goal. This time, Meredith was not able to make the miracle save and the ball splashed into the back of the net to give the Timbers their first regular season lead in Seattle since joining MLS.
It was not long before the Sounders answered, and in the 51st minute it was again Rodriguez at the back post. An early cross from Nico Lodeiro skipped through the Timbers box and found Rodriguez running free off the back shoulder of Alvas Powell. This time, the diminutive Spaniard put his header directly at goal and there was nothing Attinella could do as the Sounders pulled even.
However, the Timbers had tasted the lead and they wanted it back. In the 57th minute, with the Sounders committed to the attack, Valeri played a through ball down the right flank for Samuel Armenteros to run onto. Getting on the ball, Armenteros cut inside and unleashed a curling shot that picked out the far post around Meredith’s dive and put the Timbers up 2-1.
It took the Sounders longer to answer the second Timbers goal, but in the 68th minute they were once again able to draw level. This time off a corner kick, it was once again Lodeiro with a chance to play provider. Picking out the towering form of Chad Marshall at the back post, Lodeiro served up the ball on a platter and the Sounders center back smashed his header home to pull the score to two apiece.
In the 74th minute, the Timbers regained the lead once more, and again it was Valeri sending in a curling corner kick to Larrys Mabiala for the headed goal, giving Mabiala the brace and Valeri his third assist of the night.
The goal would be enough for the Timbers to see out the match even as the Sounders threw players forward into the attack.
The Timbers return to Portland next Saturday when they will host the San Jose Earthquakes.