In their second home loss in a row, the Portland Timbers surrendered the Cascadia Cup and playoff positioning to the Seattle Sounders as the fell 2-1 at Providence Park. From the warmups onward the match took on a strange tone with the supporters groups in the stadium from both Portland and Seattle in the stadium staying quiet in protest of the recently enacted MLS fan code of conduct and its ban on political signage.
After a back and forth opening to the eerily quiet match, the Timbers threatened in the 5th minute. Having worked the ball down the pitch, the Timbers passed the ball around the periphery of the Seattle box before a drop pass from Marvin Loria found the late run of Diego Chara twenty yards form goal. Chara took his chance first time, but could not steer the shot on goal and instead put it up into the South Deck stands.
The Timbers kept the pressure on and, in the 10th minute managed another pair of chances. First a long range bomb from Cristhian Paredes, struck from 25 yards out, forced Sounders keeper Stefan Frei to parry the ball away. Frei’s rebound fell in the box where Loria was the first to it. The Timbers’ youngster stretched out to poke the ball toward goal but again Frei got a hand to the ball, putting it over the bar for a corner kick.
In the 16th minute the Sounders came close with a chance of their own, sending Jordan Morris down the Timbers’ left with the ball at his feet. Morris drove toward the end line before cutting a square ball into the box that took to touch from Nicolas Lodeiro in front of goal, but the Uruguayan midfielder could not put his redirection on net.
In the 22nd minute the Sounders broke the deadlock. Again finding Morris running down the Timbers’ left, the Seattle winger ducked his shoulder and went around Zarek Valentin before hitting another low, square ball across the face of goal. This time the ball made contact with a pair of players, bouncing around the box before falling to the feet of Cristian Roldan in front of a mostly empty net. Before any Timbers player could react, Roldan tapped the ball home, giving the visitors the 1-0 lead.
The first half hour of the match took an anxious tone as both groups of supporters stayed largely silent. In the 33rd minute, chosen for the year 1933 when the Iron Front was disbanded in Nazi Germany, Providence Park erupted into life and noise.
Re-energized, the Timbers put their rivals back under pressure and in the 40th minute they thought they would have a chance to equalize when a ball into the Sounders box appeared to hit Seattle midfielder Jordy Delem in the leg then bounce off his raised arm. Referee Jair Maruffo was emphatic, however, pointing to his leg and waving away the Timbers’ appeals.
Just two minutes after the half, the Timbers went down a second goal and again it was Morris down the Timbers’ right that opened them up. Again getting to the end line, Morris cut a ball back into the Timbers box, finding Raul Ruidiaz in space in the Timbers box. With space to pick out his shot, Ruidiaz had no problem finishing past Steve Clark.
It took the Timbers until the 53rd minute to pull one back, finally finding the back of the net thanks to a bit of luck on a free kick from Diego Valeri. After Sebastian Blanco was taken down outside the Seattle box, the Maestro whipped a curling free kick toward goal only for a Sounder body to get in its way, deflecting the ball toward the left post as Frei dove toward the right. As the ball bounced into the back of the net the sounders were only able to look on in horror as the Timbers pulled back within one.
Another pair of chances came for the Timbers in the 59th minute. First a striker from distance from Valeri forced Frei to dive across the face of goal in order to push the ball wide. Then, after Jeremey Ebobisse chipped a cross into the box, Paredes put a head on the ball at the top of the six yard box but could only send it skipping wide of the far post.
In the 69th minute Jorge Villafana hit a skipping cross into the box that looked destined for Brian Fernandez at the penalty spot, but the Timbers’ leading scorer let the ball run through his legs for the run of Ebobisse at the back post. As the ball fall to him, Ebobisse hit it first time, getting plenty of power on his shot, but no accuracy as he put it up and into the stands.
In the 81st minute the Timbers appeared to have the equalizer when, after a long period of pressure, Valeri got the ball in space on the right and fired a strong, low cross into the box. Skipping across the face of goal, the ball found Fernandez at the back post where the striker bundled the ball into the net. As the Timbers celebrated, however, the assistant referee raised his flag, calling Fernandez for being offside. The assistant’s call stood and the Timbers found themselves again trailing by one.
In the 96th minute the Timbers found one last chance, but again could not finish off the opportunity. Pushing the ball quickly down the pitch the Timbers found Valeri on the right flank with a long diagonal ball. After chesting the ball down, Valeri hit it on the volley, sending a curling cross into the box. As the ball flew through the air it was Blanco who rose up above the crowd and put a head to it, sending his attempt looping through the air, over the fingertips of Frei and over the bar as well.
The Timbers are back in action on Saturday, August 31st when they will host Real Salt Lake in their fifth straight home match.