In a tightly contested Cascadia Cup match the Portland Timbers emerged with all three points, taking down the Seattle Sounders 2-1 thanks to a brace from Brian Fernandez.
The Timbers started the match out with a scare when, right off the opening whistle, Nicolas Lodeiro closed down Julio Cascante on the Timbers back line and tackled the ball off the foot of the center back. The ball fell into the path of Raul Ruidiaz who took a touch toward goal only for Steve Clark to quickly rush him down and block the ball away for a corner kick.
In the 9th minute, Diego Valeri found Jeremy Ebobisse in space on the left wing. With no defenders stepping to close him down, Ebobisse took the measure of the ball and fired a skipping shot toward the near post where Brian Fernandez was lurking. The shot was on target, but Sounders keeper Stefan Frei got in front of it and held on to snuff out the chance.
The Timbers came close to opening the scoring in the 18th minute off a corner kick. Valeri’s out-swinging ball found the head of Cascante who powered a header off the ground and on goal that Frei was forced to swat away. The ball bounced in the box and into the leg of Ebobisse, but the Portland forward could not put it away.
Just two minutes later, the Timbers broke through. In the 20th minute, Valeri found Jorge Moreira streaking down the right with a long switch. Bringing the ball down, Moreira cut inside around his man and fired a shot toward goal that clashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into the box. With the defenders spinning around him, Fernandez was first to react and the Timbers forward struck on the volley, tucking home the opening goal of the match.
The match continued at a breakneck pace as the Sounders nearly found an equalizer in the 22nd minute. After being brought down on the edge of the Timbers box by a should to shoulder tackle, Jordan Morris recovered and won the ball back, taking it to the end line before zipping a low pass into the center of the box for Ruidiaz. With Steve Clark committed to the corner of his goal, Ruidiaz looked to have an open goal in front of him but just before he could put it away, Larrys Mabiala slid in to put him off and the Sounders designated player skyed the ball from point-blank range.
The match evolved into a cagey affair as the first half continued, with half chances coming for both sides, but neither willing to allow themselves to become too open.
The best chances for the home side came off of free kicks as Lodeiro delivered a series of accurate balls into the Timbers box. Twice Lodeiro found the head of towering Seattle center back Roman Torres, but both times Torres could not put the ball on goal.
Moments into the second half, Fernandez got on the ball in the Sounders end and worked his way to the end line before clipping a floating cross back into the box. With the ball dropping over his head, Crithian Paredes lined up an overhead kick and made contact, but could not put it on target.
Despite the momentum favoring the Timbers, in the 50th minute the Sounders pulled even. An early diagonal ball into the box from Torres skipped off the head of Cascante and fell to Ruidiaz on the edge of the box. As Clark rushed out to greet him, Ruidiaz calmly touched the ball into space and finished a simple, side-footed shot to pull the sides even.
Less than a minute later, however, the Timbers were back in the lead. Moments after the restart, Valeri found Sebastian Blanco running in space down the right. Receiving the ball, the Maestro sent a ball into the path of Fernandez’s run into the Seattle box. As the ball rolled in front of him, Fernandez hit it first time, sending a low shot on goal that Frei got a hand to but could not stop before it rolled over the line and put the Timbers up 2-1.
With the Timbers back in the lead following the exchange of goals, the Sounders were forced to push for an equalizer in the increasingly chippy match. Despite occasional breaks down the pitch from the Timbers, most of the remainder of the match would be played in the Timbers end as the Sounders threw ball after ball into the box.
Finally, in the 96th minute, Torres latched onto another ball into the box. The big man hit a snap header toward goal, but he did not have the pace on it to test Clark, who easily snagged the ball out of the air.
As the final whistle blew following a series of increasingly rough fouls in the final minutes of the match, both teams came together on the pitch and had to be held apart.
The Timbers return to Portland for their next match when they will host the LA Galaxy next Saturday, July 27th.