Portland Timbers 4, Seattle Sounders 1 | MLS Match Recap
PORTLAND, Ore. – The game finished with 22 men on the field this time, but the Portland Timbers capped off MLS Heineken Rivalry Week by sending the Seattle Sounders spinning to an even more decisive rout than in their 3-1 US Open Cup win less than two weeks ago.
Darlington Nagbe ended his season-long scoring drought in spectacular fashion, and after Lamar Neagle equalized for Seattle right before halftime, the floodgates opened for Portland with a late brace from Fanendo Adi and a stoppage-time strike from substitute Rodney Wallace in a 4-1 victory on a steamy Sunday night at raucous Providence Park.
It’s the first regular-season win over Seattle for the Timbers since Oct. 13, 2013, and it’s the first time they’ve beaten their northern rivals in two straight matches (all competitions) since they dispatched of them in the Western Conference semifinals of the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs. In the US Open Cup match at Seattle’s Starfire Stadium on June 16, three Sounders were ejected in an extratime thriller.
The win not only moves Portland (8-6-4) back above the red line in the Western Conference and into a tie with the LA Galaxy for third place. Seattle (9-7-2), who were without star forwards Clint Dempsey (suspension) and Obafemi Martins (groin injury) and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, sit just one point above Portland and LA in the table.
The fact that Seattle were without their attacking stars showed. Portland controlled the action in the first half, firing off 11 shots, six on target.
They got started with a good chance in the ninth minute when a long Will Johnson shot that was blocked at the top of the box fell to Adi, who launched his own shot that also took a slight deflection, forcing Stefan Frei into a diving save, the first of his seven on the night.
Three minutes later, Nagbe wouldn’t be denied. The dynamic Timbers attacker took a quick touch from Diego Valeri at the end of a long build-up, dribbled into space at the top of the area and let fly a right-footed bomb that gave Frei no chance. It was Nagbe’s first goal since Oct. 25 of last season, a span of 17 league games without finding the back of the net.
Nagbe almost found No. 2 in the 30th minute, finding space at the top-right corner of the box to unleash another right-footed stinger, but it flew just wide of the far post.
That’s when Seattle found their first two real chances of the half, first in the 36th minute when Micheal Azira streaked free into the box to get on the end of a Chad Barrett cross. But Azira was unable to bring it down.
Two minutes later, Seattle were true, when a Tyrone Mears free kick found a streaking Neagle at the far post for a flying, right-footed tap-in.
In the second half, Portland picked up where they left off from early in the match.
And after peppering Seattle’s goal with a number of good chances, they broke the dam. First in the 74th minute, a piercing Nagbe run ended with a perfect feed to Adi in the middle of the box for a cool, one-time finish past Frei. Two minutes later, he struck again, this time with the feed into the box coming from Wallace.
And in the first minute of stoppage time, it was Wallace who got in on the scoring, with a left-footed blast from straight on after being played in by fellow substitute Maximiliano Urruti to seal a memorable win for the Timbers.
Portland are back in action in the Open Cup on Wednesday night when they travel to face Real Salt Lake, while the Sounders will host D.C. United in a nationally-televised game on Friday evening on UniMás.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.