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Portland Timbers lose again; fall 1-0 to Seattle Sounders

Sebastian Blanco crosses during the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders Cascadia derby match. 8/26/18
Kris Lattimore

The losing streak continued tonight in a thoroughly disheartening way as the Portland Timbers scored the only goal in a 1-0 loss to their arch-rivals, the Seattle Sounders.

Coming out in a defensively compact shape, the Timbers were able to put their stamp on the match in the early going and were soon rewarded with a series of chances. First, in the 9th minute, the Timbers were able to turn over the Sounders in their half, working the ball into the box and finding Sebastian Blanco with his back to goal. The Argentine attacker dribbled his way into a half chance, but could not get off his shot cleanly, earning a corner kick off the deflection. On the restart, Valeri found the head of Julio Cascante but the center back powered his chance just over the bar.

Then, less than a minute later, Blanco played Armenteros into the Sounders’ box, only for the ball to be poked away to Andy Polo out on the wing. Polo cut inside and hit a strong shot, but it was directly at Stefan Frei and the Seattle keeper had no trouble making the save.

Finally, in the 12th minute, the Timbers broke forward together as a group, moving the ball through the midfield with a series of short passes before finding Zarek Valentin making an overlapping run forward. Deep in the Seattle half, Valentin hit the ball with his first touch, sending a curving shot forward that flew just over the bar.

The Timbers threatened again in the 24th minute, finding Diego Valeri in the Sounders’ box. As he received the ball, the Maestro was surrounded by defenders and elected to flick the ball backwards into the path of Blanco who was cutting in from the wing. Blanco took a touch and hit a curling ball on goal only for Frei to comfortably snag it out of the air.

Forays forward from the Sounders remained a rarity in the first half as the Timbers controlled play and largely kept the visitors pinned back in their own half.

In the 44th minute, the Timbers came within inches of scoring as Blanco won the ball and sprinted in behind the Sounders’ back line. With Armenteros and Valeri arriving in the box, Blanco played in a tantalizing, rolling cross that both swung at only to miss and have the opportunity go wanting.

The Timbers started out the second half on shaky footing when, in the 47th, Polo played a square ball in the Timbers half that was easily taken by the Sounders. The visitors pushed forward and put the ball at the foot of midfielder Cristian Roldan on the edge of the Timbers’ box. Roldan wound up and hit a hard shot on goal, but the attempt was directly into the chest of Jeff Attinella who held on for the save.

Just a minute later, the Timbers were back on the front foot, pushing forward on the break and finding Valeri with space to fire off a knuckling shot that skipped toward goal and forced Frei to knock it down in the box, spilling a rebound that spun along the end line before being cleared into touch by a defender.

As the Timbers put the Sounders back under pressure, balls into the Seattle box were plentiful, but scoring chances were hard to come by. In the 70th minute, the Timbers were finally able to connect on one of their balls into the box when Valentin played in a cross to the back post where Armenteros was lurking. Armenteros rose up and put a head on the ball, but sent his chance up and over the bar.

The Sounders began to assert themselves on the match after a change in formation moved the visitors into a 5-3-2, reinforcing their back line and attacking the spaces in behind the Timbers’ full backs.

The change paid dividends quickly as, in the 71st minute, the Sounders were able to find new designated player Raul Ruidiaz breaking forward. A long ball into the forward’s path looked likely to connect only for Attinella to rush off his line and slide to collect the ball moments before Ruidiaz could put a boot to it.

From there the chances began to come for the Sounders, sending the ball down the Timbers’ left flank through the runs forward of Roldan.

In the 75th minute Roldan received the ball deep in the Timbers’ half and cut a sharp pass back toward the top of the box for the late-arriving run of Harry Shipp. Shipp struck the ball first time but could not get over it, putting his shot into the stands.

Moments later, Roldan was getting forward again, bu this time the midfielder turned full back played a low ball across the face of goal. Facing his own goal and with a Sounder at his back, Cascante attempted to knock the ball away but could not make good contact with it, instead sending it spinning over the end line to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead.

As the match ground away, the Timbers through men forward to no avail as Seattle remained defensively sound and saw out the match through a series of quick breaks down the pitch that kept the Timbers off balance until the final whistle.

The Timbers are home again on Wednesday when they will host Eastern Conference side Toronto FC.