Portland Timbers 3 : 2 FC (Aggregate 5-3)
Portland Timbers will advance to the Western Conference final after comprehensively beating their local rivals in the play-offs for the first time in 38 years.
Although the 3-2 final scoreline may suggest a close game, both Sounders goals came long after the contest was over, with Portland leading 5-1 on aggregate before later goals by DeAndre Yedlin and Eddie Johnson placed a somewhat false veneer on the scoreline.
Will Johnson and Diego Valeri had put Portland out of sight by half. Seconds after the interval, Mamdou Danso had scored Portland’s third after Sounders were caught sleeping at a free kick.
Sigi Schmid sprang a surprise by selecting Shalrie Joseph in for the suspended Lamar Neagle in midfield, before the revelation that the West Indian was in fact playing forward with Eddie Johnson with Clint Dempsey not in fact moving forward to partner Eddie Johnson but remaining in midfield.
Adam Moffat too kept his place in midfield. Marc Burch came in for Leo Gonzalez at full back. The Timbers were unchanged.
Rodney Wallace missed the game’s first chance by slotting wide in three minutes but arguably Valeri might have shot himself before sliding left. Dempsey fired straight at Ricketts in five for Seattle’s first shot.
Wallace did it the target five minutes after but barely tested Sounders keeper Gspurning who caught safely. He spilled a grounded shot from Darlington Nagbe in the 12th minute but the Timbers pressure was piling.
Only a superbly executed a wonderful penalty box tackle by Marc Burch on Diego Chara in an extremely vulnerable position denied Portland another early chance in 15 before Nagbe drilled a long range effort wide.
Yedlin continued to look less of defender than a pacy wide mid, and Wallace really tormented him at every opportunity. Gspurning saved Sounders again after some defensive hesitancy temporarily caused panic when a clearance rocketed into Chara and bounced wild.
Portland’s Pa Modou Kah received the game’s first yellow for a chop on Yedlin and petulantly ran away while it was being delivered.
In the 28th minute, Portland’s scoring deluge started when they were awarded a penalty for handball after Djimi Traore foolishly stuck his hand way out from his body to obstruct Jewsbury’s prodded pass.
It was a clear penalty and well spotted by the assistant referee. Sounders players besieged the sideline official but nonetheless Will Johnson slotted the spot kick home to give Portland the lead.
Sounders deficiencies from the first leg reappeared.
Eddie Johnson blasted over but a deflection was ruled and a corner was awarded. Burch’s first was every bit as bad as Dempsey’s had been on Saturday in the first leg.
Brad Evans fired wide after being put in a decent place by a poor defensive header but the Sounders chances were about to collapse completely in a short spell around the interval.
Just before half time, it was 2-0. Valeri received possession with far too much room inside the area having received possession from Wallace.
He seemed to be fouled by Moffat but stayed upright perhaps aware his side already had been awarded a penalty. It was a wise choice as his subsequent toe poke eluded Gspurning for an overall 4-1 lead, with four different scorers in the series.
The half time whistle came more as a relief to a beleaguered visiting side than anything.
Amazingly the Sounders emerged unchanged after the interval.
Portland had the ball in the net after just 27 seconds but the goal was ruled out for handball. A minute later, it was 3-0 for Portland.
A free kick was quickly taken by Nagbe and caught Sounders off guard. He found Harrington swiftly out on the left.Danso was unmarked when he powered home the header from Harrington’s cross.
With a 5-1 aggregate lead and a game in Salt Lake on Sunday, Portland began to slow down.
Dempsey picked up a yellow card for a drag back and Shalrie Joseph was finally .. mercifully withdrawn for Obafemi Martins.
Dempsey though got his revenge when his pleading persuaded referee Grajeda to book Chara after a foul that frankly did’t merit a card. Justice was done when the USA international’s free kick went woefully wide.
12 minutes after half time, Moffat left for Argentinian playmaker Mauro Rosales. Porter began resting players as early as the hour mark.
Valeri was removed for Kalif Alhassan with a view to the trip to Salt Lake. With Chara now on a yellow, giving Alhassan some playing time seemed very smart. Burch though was lucky to escape a second yellow when he went through the back of Ryan Johnson.
Brad Evans managed some power but not direction in the 65th minute but his side was well beaten.
Caleb Porter withdrew a second player, Ryan Johnson for Max Urruti in the 70th minute again with rest on his mind. With one foot on the plane, Sounders took advantage and made the result look decent.
They scored a first consolation in the 74th when Yedlin netted from a narrow angle after Eddie Johnson flicked on an Evans throw. Seconds later it was 3-2 after Eddie Johnson himself headed in a Yedlin cross in the 75th minute. Suddenly from 5-1, the aggregate was at 5-3.
Portland had fallen asleep at about the same time Seattle had woken up, and had been punished.
Porter withdrew Nagbe for the defensively minded Ben Zemanski with ten minutes left to shore up the defensive end of matters.
Andy Rose came on for Osvaldo Alonso in the 84th minute as Sigi Schmid’s last throw of the die was cast.
Clint Dempsey had one more chance in 89 to force a nervy ending but missed the target on 89.
No further threat was aimed at Ricketts and Portland had lifted the 38 year curse and eliminated their rivals from the play-offs.
The whistle went and the vociferous home crowd began a long night of celebration.
Sounders players milled aimlessly spending time congratulating their opponents as if to delay facing their fans. To their credit, they did led by Brad Evans. Eddie Johnson gave his jersey to a spectator.
However it was Portland’s night and the players did a full round of the stadium.
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Jewsbury, D Danso, D Kah, D Harrington, M Chara, M Valeri (Alhassan, 61), M Johnson, W. ©, F Nagbe (Zemanski, 82), F Johnson, R. (Urruti, 69), F Wallace
Substitutes Not Used: GK Kocic, D Jean-Baptiste, M Zizzo, F Valencia
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Wallace, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Wallace, 2); FOULS: 14 (Chara, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 1
SEA: GK Gspurning, D Traore, D Burch, D Yedlin, D Hurtado, M Evans, M Joseph (Martins, 49), M Moffat (Rosales, 58), M Alonso (Rose, 84), F Johnson, F Dempsey
Substitutes Not Used: GK Hahnemann, D Ianni, D Scott, F Estrada
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Dempsey, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players, 1); FOULS: 21 (Burch, Yedlin, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 3
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Paul Scott, Bill Dittmar