Sounders FC 1 : 2 Portland Timbers
Portland grabbed the narrowest of leads in the away leg after Osvaldo Alonso’s late goal clawed back a two goal Portland lead. Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe had put the visitors ahead with a goal in each half.
It was only after they went two goals down that Seattle really turned the screws although they were never short of possession. Clint Dempsey came close to equalising but headed into keeper Ricketts just before the full time whistle.
An equaliser would have been unfair on a very disciplined Timbers side who handled a plethora of crosses and corners into their area and protected goalkeeper Ricketts superbly.
DeAndre Yedlin failed to pass a fitness test so Zach Scott slotted in at right back for Seattle. Doug Herrick stepped in as back up goalkeeper for Marcus Hahnemann, who was replacing the suspended Mike Gspurning. Ryan Johnson pipped Valencia to the centre forward position for the visitors.
Hahnemann’s first touch was secure, easily punching away an early Will Johnson free kick. Sounders first set piece, a Dempsey right wing corner, was better but well cleared by Portland. His second in the sixth minute failed to even beat the first defender. The pattern was set. For the first 20 minutes, Sounders dominated possession but crosses ‘dumped’ into the Timbers box, as Caleb Porter would later say, rarely troubled the outstanding Pa Modou Kah and Mamadou Danso, the Portland centre halves.
Sounders also had the next good chance. Adam Moffat dribbled past Chara, beating the Portland midfielder comprehensively, and found Brad Evans unmarked. His shot was into the turf and also straight at Ricketts. Neagle curled wide inside nine minutes as if to emphasise Sounders’ early superiority. It was one way traffic but crawling so slowly, it seemed unlikely to reach any destination.
Against the run of play, Portland took the lead. Chara found Jewsbury in acres of space on the right. Ryan Johnson easily shook off a dormant Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traore, and angled the ball past Hahnemann with his head.
Portland were suddenly rejuvenated.
Ryan Johnson hared down the left and cut back the ball which although grounded, evaded all comers and goers.
At the other end, Sounders continued to pepper.
Eddie Johnson was awarded a free kick for very little just outside the box. Ricketts turned Dempsey’s effort over for a corner in what was his only notable action of the first half.
The game opened up a little and both sides created half chances.
Another free kick by Dempsey was fired over and assorted efforts failed to trouble either keeper. Portland continued to surrender a large number of free kicks in dangerous areas but Seattle failed to land much on target.
Osvaldo Alonso and Nagbe traded fouls in one of the game’s better battles. On one occasion, Will Johnson joined the Clint Dempsey ‘wasted free kick’ club.
Alonso got the persistent fouling verbal warning on 42 to show he was one away from a booking but admirably thereafter kept his discipline. Rodney Wallace picked up the game’s first for kicking the ball away as the interval approached.
On half time, Jewsbury forced Hahnemann into one more save, diving to his left.
Both sides emerged unchanged after a half in which Sounders had taken 55.8% of possession.
Sigi Schmid’s problems for the second leg were become a little steeper.
Lamar Neagle picked up a yellow early in the second half ruling him out of the second leg for a foul on Diego Valeri. Zach Scott sent Ryan Johnson flying as they chased a Nagbe ball but Johnson’s penalty claims were waived away. Seattle continued to dominate possession but rarely threatened Rickett’s goal.
On the hour Porter made his first alteration, introducing Kalif Alhassan for a strangely out of sorts Valeri. At the same time, Zach Scott was receiving lengthy treatment and had to leave for Mauro Rosales. Brad Evans went to right back and Rosales went to his former right mid berth. Hahnemann spilled a weak Alhassan shot and was lucky his defenders reacted quicker.
Portland were beginning to swagger and Sounders looked briefly in disarray. That disarray became dos a zero in the 65th minute.
Nagbe turned Traore brilliantly when he received a Alhassan pass, swiftly hit into his feet. With Traore fooled and grounded, Nagbe lashed the ball past Hahnemann to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Seattle ended the match as they had begun it, in control of the ball but little else. Jewsbury bravely headed behind a Rosales free kick under immense pressure on another marquee night for the former Kansas man.
Porter recognised the danger and Nagbe was withdrawn in the 73rd minute for the more defensive minded Ben Zemanski. Dempsey fired wide with a snap shot from 14 yards, which aligned with the rest of his sub par game. Shalrie Joseph replaced Adam Moffat and the home crowd could barely raise a cheer to welcome him, so long had it been since he had impacted a Sounders game.
It was so nearly 0-3 when Rosales gave the ball away and Ryan Johnson ran clear, only scooping over by dint of a deflection. He left for Valencia just before Valeri was booked in the 84th minute.
Marc Burch replaced Leo Gonzalez in a like for like switch at left back. Sounders finished strongly with a plethora of corners, after one of which Traore seemed to block a Dempsey effort on goal. Kah produced a great defensive header under pressure from Rosales, defending a cross.
However Joseph was indeed to impact the game in the 89th minute.
Joseph jumped best to an Evans throw and his flicked header landed at Alonso’s feet. He hammered the ball home to give Seattle a goal their efforts deserved and some hope for the return leg.
That was the final goal and it opened the gate just a little for the Sounders after an overall poor display.
Seattle Sounders FC – Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott (Mauro Rosales, 63), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch, 84), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey, Adam Moffat (Shalrie Joseph, 77), Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle.
Substitutes Not Used: Doug Herrick, David Estrada, Patrick Ianni, Andy Rose.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Dempsey, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dempsey, 2); FOULS: 13 (Alonso, 4); OFFSIDE: 1 (Johnson, 1); CORNER KICKS: 11 (Dempsey, 8); SAVES: 3 (Hahnemann, 3).
Portland Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury, Mamadou Danso, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan, 61), Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski, 73), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia, 83), Rodney Wallace.
Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Frederic Piquionne, Sal Zizzo.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (R. Johnson, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (R. Johnson, 2); FOULS: 21 (Wallace, 5); OFFSIDE: 1 (Wallace, 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (W. Johnson, 1); SAVES: 4 (Ricketts, 4).
POR – Rodney Wallace (caution) 44′
SEA – Lamar Neagle (caution) 48′
POR – Ben Zemanski (caution) 84′
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Drew Fischer
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Cloudy and 50-degrees