Seattle Sounders 2, Portland Timbers 1 | MLS Match Recap

SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders bested their Cascadia Cup rivals and kept their Western Conference playoff hopes afloat in one fell swoop on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, topping the Portland Timbers, 2-1, on the strength of first-half goals from Obafemi Martins and Brad Evans.

Martins scored early in the first half, Evans added one from the penalty spot before halftime, and Seattle survived for the victory after conceding a second-half tally to Portland’s Jack Jewsbury that gave the game intrigue until the final moments. However, the Timbers could never quite manage to find an equalizing goal.

The Sounders, who welcomed Marco Pappa back into the lineup for his first start since June 28, got the quick start they needed in the sixth minute after the Timbers backline failed to clear a loose ball out of their penalty box. The ball fell to Martins, who calmly slotted his attempt past Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey.

Portland, without dynamic midfield duo Will Johnson (leg soreness) and Diego Chara (suspension), largely controlled the proceedings in the first half and had an excellent look at an equalizer in the 30th minute. Newly-acquired striker Lucas Melano streaked by Roman Torres and Tyrone Mears for a one-on-one breakaway against Seattle ‘keeper Stefan Frei. But Frei came forward and stuffed Melano’s attempt before he could get a clean look, preserving Seattle’s one-goal advantage.

The missed opportunity would come back to haunt the Timbers, as the Sounders would manage to double the lead just before halftime. This time, Seattle’s goal came off a penalty kick, awarded after Martins collided with Kwarasey in the box after touching a long pass from Mears past the Ghanaian, drawing the whistle from referee Alan Kelly.

Seattle captain Evans then stepped to spot and converted the penalty, putting the Sounders up 2-0 as the game hit halftime.

But the Timbers cut the lead in half in the 58th minute, after a corner kick from Diego Valeri found Jewsbury in front of the Seattle goal. The veteran didn’t miss the chance, burying his attempt past Frei to make it 2-1. But Portland couldn’t find the equalizer and the scoreline would hold up as the final result despite continued Timbers pressure and a free kick attempt from Valeri at the top of the area that stood as the final touch of the game.

With the win, Seattle (12-13-2) moved to 38 points on the season and back into a playoff spot, albeit on the games won tiebreaker, after briefly falling out of contention after last weekend’s loss to Real Salt Lake. The Timbers fell to 11-9-7 and remain at 40 points for the season, good for fifth in the Western Conference.

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