The Timbers played well throughout the first half. Dairon Asprilla shocked everyone with a ferocious strike six minutes into the match. He cut inside and launched from distance. The ball whistled through the air and smashed off the corner of the goal post.
Three minutes later Eryk Williamson went down and immediately called for the trainers. Williamson was stretchered off the field and was replaced by Cristhian Paredes in the 12th minute.
Portland did well to disrupt the Sounders in possession. They made it difficult to progress into the final third and won the ball in midfield with numbers. When the Timbers recovered possession, they tried to strike quickly in transition.
Seattle’s only real chance of the first half came in the 20th minute. Alex Roldan bombed up the right flank and swung a cross to Brad Smith. Smith volleyed the ball across goal and it flew high and wide.
In the 34th minute, the Timbers won the ball in midfield. Yimmi Chara brought it down and drove toward goal. He played a quick one-two and received the return pass in the box. Y. Chara bundled toward goal but was unable to steer a shot on target.
Toward the end of the first half emotions started to boil over. Jose Van Rankin was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Nicolas Lodeiro. The Timbers players swarmed the referee to protest and Portland coach Giovanni Savarese was also booked. Players from both teams were pushing and shoving on and off until the halftime whistle.
The Sounders started the second half on the front foot. Within a minute of the second-half kickoff, Seattle nearly scored the go-ahead goal. The Sounders almost scored again in the 53rd minute, A. Roldan dropped his pass to the on-rushing Joao Paulo, who put his laces through the ball. Steve Clark got his fingertips to the shot and pushed it off the crossbar.
At the other end, Felipe Mora closed down Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. Cleveland tried to clear the ball and hit it into Mora. Mora’s pressing cause the Sounders an even bigger problem in the 58th minute. The striker anticipated well and intercepted a back pass. Mora touched it around Cleveland and wide. He held the ball up before squaring to Sebastian Blanco, who tapped the ball into the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
September 6, 2020: Blanco tears his ACL tear at Seattle.— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) August 30, 2021
August 29, 2021: He makes a triumphant return. pic.twitter.com/uk82Is8xp3
Seattle quickly won a corner kick and Shane O’Neill headed the ball off the post. Kelyn Rowe hit the follow-up toward goal but Diego Chara got in the way to block it out for a corner. The next corner kick was cleared only as far as Joao Paulo. He struck and forced Clark into a save. Rowe tested Clark with a shanked cross which flew toward the top corner of the goal. The keeper pushed the ball away from goal and off the post.
The match became more chippy as it neared its conclusion. Larrys Mabiala had to make a sliding clearance to prevent a late Raul Ruidiaz chance and Cristian Roldan headed the ball off the post. Ruidiaz curled a shot toward goal in the 87th minute and Clark made a diving save to parry it wide.
C. Roldan rose up to meet another corner kick and he flicked his header toward the back post. Again, it hit the post and Seattle were denied an equalizer.
Portland iced the match in second-half stoppage time. Mora closed down a high, bouncing ball. Cleveland came out of his area and headed it in an attempt to clear his lines. Mora got on the end of the mis-hit ball as Cleveland tried to get back to his goal line. The Timbers forward lofted the ball over the keeper and into the net to give Portland a 2-0 win and propel them into a playoff position.
The Timbers travel to Houston next. Portland play the Dynamo on Friday, Sept. 3 at 5:00 p.m. PST in BBVA Stadium.