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Brian Fernandez braces Timbers past the Seattle Sounders to advance in the US Open Cup

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MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Sounders having most of the ball in the opening minutes, the Timbers got the action started early when Blanco had a shot from distance in the 2nd minute which took a deflection but still bounced on the top of the crossbar. Not to be outdone, Brian Fernandez also fancied himself an early shot and in the 6th minute cut inside from the right wing, fired with his left, and opened the scoring, making it 1-0 for the Timbers.

The Sounders had their first chance of the match in the 13th minute after working the ball well down the left flank. Nouhou played a low cross in to Will Bruin near the penalty spot, but his shot was deflected by the close-marking of Julio Cascante, out for a corner kick.

Seattle kept up the pressure, and in the 17th minute, Leerdam found Bruin again near the spot, this time from the right side. Bruin was able to get a powerful header off the grass, but his placement was too close to Steve Clark, who easily clutched the ball to his chest. In the 24th minute, Seattle played Nouhou in behind the defensive line, despite Jorge Moreira’s protests of an offside violation. Nouhou, one on one, with clark fired a shot on target but Clark was equal to it and was able to punch it wide for a Seattle throw. Moments later, Seattle created yet another shot from inside the box, which Clark was once again equal to.

In the 30th minute, Alex Roldan earned the first yellow card of the match after pulling down Diego Valeri from behind to break up a dangerous looking Timbers counter.

The rest of the first half featured few real attacking threats from either team as the Timbers enjoyed more possession than they had earlier. That is, until the 43rd minute when Zambrano fouled Victor Rodriguez four yards atop the box. In a bizarre moment of soccer, Rodriguez fired the ball off of Brian Fernandez’s head somehow deflected into the near post, drawing the Sounders even just before stoppage time.

In first half stoppage time, the Timbers almost retook the lead after Moreira hit an early cross that almost snuck in at the far post, but Bryan Meredith was able to get a hand to it to hit it off the crossbar and away from goal.

The second half again featured an early shot from distance by Blanco. This time, Meredith could only parry it away, right into the onrushing path of Fernandez. Fernandez, however, missed the narrow-angle tap in wide at the far post and looked almost as shocked as the entirety of Timbers fandom when it didn’t go in.

Just minutes later (in the 50th minute), Fernandez didn’t miss. Off an explosive counter attack, Diego Valeri found Jermy Ebobisse on the left side of the penalty box. Ebobisse played a perfect low ball into the six-yard box for Fernandez, who cooly slotted the ball home, giving the Timbers the lead again at 2-1.

After the goal, the Timbers enjoyed a long period of casual possession, happy to keep the ball and pass around the Seattle midfield and defense. In the 57th minute, the Timbers created another chance as Blanco and Valeri played a slick one-two inside the Sounders’ box, only for the final pass to be blocked out for a corner. The Sounders used the opportunity to make the first substitution of the match, bringing on Henry Wingo for Handwalla Bwana.

The Sounders finally created a chance in the 60th minute, after an attack down the right side almost found Will Bruin just in front of goal. However, a solid defensive effort from Larrys Mabiala was able to tackle it out for a corner kick.

Presumably some stuff happened afterwards, but the ESPN+ stream went to “experiencing technical difficulties” so, not really sure. In the 68th minute, the stream returned, and there was much rejoicing.

In the 71st minute, the Timbers created another chance, with some nice interplay between Blanco, Valeri, and Fernandez resulted in a shot for Fernandez from the top of the box. While the shot was well placed into the bottom corner of the net, Meredith proved himself equal to it and made the diving save. Shortly after, in the 75th minute, the Timbers used their first substitution of the match to bring on Cristhian Paredes for Renzo Zambrano.

In the 78th minute, the momentum changed as Larrys Mabiala chased Will Bruin to the left side of the Timbers’ box. As Bruin fired a cross in, it struck Mabiala’s hand (in what many might claim was a natural position) and the Referee whistled a penalty for the Sounders. However, the ghost of Rasheed Wallace was present in Tacoma, and Rodriguez pinged the penalty off the crossbar and out of danger. The score remained 2-1 in favor of the Timbers.

In the 83rd minute, the Timbers had a chance to put the match to bed after a heroic dummy from Brian Fernandez left the ball for an unmarked Ebobisse on the left side. Unfortunately, his shot rolled wide of the far post. Moments later, Blanco executed a strong sliding tackle in the attacking third from which he controlled the ball. Blanco laid it off for Valeri who shot from the top of the box, but Meredith was once again equal to the effort, making a strong diving save.

Seattle responded by attacking with a reinvigorated spirit, desperately trying to avoid losing the match at ‘home’. Despite a number of chances, including one that forced yet another heroic save from Clark in the 88th minute, the Timbers were ultimately able to see the match out and will advance to the fifth round of the 2019 US Open Cup.

The Timbers are back in action on the 22nd when they will host the Houston Dynamo. Unless they’re drawn to play another USOC match before then. The Round of 16 draw will take place on June 13th at 7AM pacific time.