Sounders FC 1 : 1 Portland Timbers
A late late equaliser from the head of Rodney Wallace procured a draw for Portland Timbers in the season’s first Cascadia derby.
Sounders had led through Eddie Johnson’s first MLS goal of 2013 and had thenceforth comfortably handled all that Portland threw at them. The Timbers had the majority of possession but lacked any potency or thrust between a first minute Gspurning save from Diego Valeri and the last minute Wallace equaliser.
Between those moments, the hosts had played most of the better football despite Portland’s never say die attitude. Portland’s play ventured on the predictable but much of that was due to the excellent reading of the game of the Sounders defensive engine, notably Osvaldo Alonso, Djimi Traore and Jhon Hurtado.
Sadly for them, especially Hurtado, all their effort will fade into the memory much faster than the one defensive howler that allowed Portland their equaliser.
The line ups had some unfamiliar looks. Ben Zemanksi took the right berth off Ryan Miller after the latter had looked unimpressive so far. The threat from Steve Zakuani was beyond perhaps what Caleb Porter thought him capable. Darlington Nagbe was given a free role to run in both a horizontal and vertical channel. Obafemi Martins and Frederic Piquionne made their respective benches. Ryan Johnson played as a sole forward while Eddie Johnson was partnered with Sammy Ochoa.
Andy Rose joined Osvaldo Alonso in a tough defensive midfield for the Sounders.Gspurning had to work in the first minute when Valeri tried a long distance curler. He was rewarded by being the recipient of Alonso’s first foul two minutes later.
Nagbe just failed to connect in the tenth when Rose surprisingly stopped tracking back and the small forward continued his run.
But it was Sounders who took the lead. Chara gave the ball away in a harmful area to Zakuani who hared down the left. His cross to Johnson was inch perfect, with neither Will Johnson or Zemanski having the legs to catch the speedy Congolese winger. Johnson netted with aplomb.
Sounders then poured it on. From the left wing, Johnson received great ball from Steve Zakuani in the centre. He forced Ricketts to parry.
Portland could have had a penalty shout in the first half. Hurtado tackled fairly but his trailing leg scythed Ryan Johnson in the 27th minute. Portland had a decent spell just after the half hour.
Their best effort was wasted by Nagbe who controled on his thigh well enough but shot wide and lame after a good cross from Zemanski.
Alonso had already received a well earned yellow for repetitive fouling this time but the next one was worth it to break up some slick Timbers passing.
Johnson fired the free kick wastefully at the wall.
Valeri hit the bar with a curling free kick after another Alonso foul, this time on Zemanski. But it was Alonso drawing a foul that produced the next yellow, for a trip by Will Johnson.
Silvestre miskicked another clearance when he seemed to have minimal control of the direction.
Nagbe had two bites at the cherry in 66 minutes, the second of which was deflected for a corner.
Piquionne and Martins arrived off the bench, the latter to great applause, but Portland needed more than that to change up their total lack of unpredictability.
With 90 minutes gone, Portland finally took advantage of a rare Sounders lapse. Hurtado stood still and substitute Rodney Wallace found all the space in the world to head a Baptiste lob past a bemused Gspurning.
Sounders played some excellent football but the Timbers were rewarded for plugging away, keeping their discipline and eventually being in the right place at the right time.
Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 70), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Alex Caskey 81), Sammy Ochoa (Mauro Rosales 61), Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Servando Carrasco.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Johnson 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Johnson 2); FOULS: 19 (Alonso 5); OFFSIDE: 3 (Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Martinez, Rosales 2); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning 1).
Portland Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Ben Zemanski, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Mikael Silvestre, Michael Harrington, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury (Frederic Piquionne 70), Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace 80), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia 90+3).
Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Dylan Tucker-Gagnes, Ryan Miller, Kalif Alhassan.
TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Valeri 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Valeri, Wallace 1); FOULS: 18 (R. Johnson 4); OFFSIDE: 3 (R. Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Valeri 7); SAVES: 2 (Ricketts 2).