Are there four better words in the world that "free tacos and haircuts"? Facing an absolute must-win game (emotionally if not technically) and playing in front of 66,452 fans (the second largest standalone crowd in MLS history), the Seattle Sounders made sure everyone went home a little more satiated and cleanly cut (OK, maybe they won't claim their reward until later but you get the idea).
Sure, the Portland Timbers are not a very good team. Sure, they started a lineup that only an interim manager would use. Sure, they gave away a goal or two. But give credit to the Sounders for taking care of business with a 3-0 win.
They needed this win and really needed to look good doing it. That's exactly what they did. The Cascadia Cup might still end up in Portland, but at least the hand-off won't have to be witnessed by thousands of Sounders fans.
More than that, the Sounders looked good. Like, really good. Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson were working together like they rarely have. Brad Evans was at his Swiss-Army knife best. The defense limited chances. Christian Tiffert and Osvaldo Alonso owned the central midfield. Michael Gspurning came up big on the rare occasion he was called upon. There really wasn't anything worth complaining about.
SEA - Own goal (Bright Dike) 25'
SEA - Fredy Montero 62'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 77), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 87), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert (David Estrada 88), Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 11; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 5.
Portland Timbers - Donovan Ricketts, Lovel Palmer, David Horst, Mamadou Danso (Eric Brunner 68), Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe (Eric Alexander 77), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Sal Zizzo (Mike Fucito 46), Franck Songo'o, Bright Dike.
SEA - Christian Tiffert (caution) 69'
POR - Diego Chara (caution) 73'
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Eric Boria, George Gansner
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers - October 7, 2012
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Coach
(On the game...) "We're happy with the goals, they were helpful on a couple of them. Ricketts' save on the one that Fredy tried to beat him with far post could have been a goal of the year type of thing. That was tremendous-the whole atmosphere and the feeling. When I walked on the field, as I said to Schmetz [Brian Schmetzer], 'This is what heaven must be like.' In my imagination of heaven, this is it-packed house, beat Portland by three, fans going crazy, it can't get better than that."
(On being featured on the supporters tifo display before the game...) "I was glad that I had a royal flush. I felt good about that going into the game. I thought that was important. I felt very honored that the fans did that. It was a little bit emotional for me, but I was really proud of that. This club has been the best thing that's happened to me in soccer. I'm thankful every day that I'm here."
(On the support for Sounders FC...) "What's happening here is just phenomenal. Everybody thought it was going to disappear, it was going to go away. It hasn't gone away, if anything it's grown. When you looked and you walked out there you said, 'This isn't the Seahawks playing today, this is the Sounders, and we're sold out...We have those amount of fans, and this is something that we thought wasn't necessarily going to happen in US Soccer. For a guy who used to coach at UCLA when we were struggling trying to get people to come to games, and slowly got more, having been involved in different games around the league where sometimes it was almost easier to introduce the people in the stands than the players because it would have been fewer and easier to get done...This is just absolutely phenomenal. It's a reflection of the community, it's a reflection of the sports interest for the city of Seattle-just what the people are all about here. Our fans are the best. No offense to the Portland fans, I think they're great and they support their team to the hill, but there's nothing better than the Seattle Sounders fans."
(On moving into first in the Cascadia Cup standings...) "We put ourselves in the best position possible. We're in a position now where they have to go to Vancouver and win. Anything short of a victory gives the Cascadia Cup back to us, and in a year where we had four of the six games on the road and they had four of the six games at home, I think that's a big tribute to our team."
(On his team's performance...) "I think the guys responded well. I think challenged a little bit that group of Eddie [Johnson], Montero, Tiffert, and Rosales because they're the creative forces on the field for us, but there's also got to be enough defending that takes place within that group to make it work. I thought they all took turns defending and helping out at the right times. I think each of them covered a good amount of ground, a good amount of acreage out there. When we play like that, it's great because you have the ability to create chances, you have the ability to go forward. Obviously, we're trying to pinch the midfield a little bit more so that means the outside backs are able to get forward a more. Adam Johansson was very much involved in goal number one and I thought Leo Gonzalez...he's got a slight hamstring we think, up until then I thought Leo was very, very good and he got forward probably as much as he has here, which I know he enjoys doing but he's maybe not as fit doing it as he used to be. I think it's our understanding of playing together-that's why we left the main group out there as long as we could, because we wanted them to get more minutes as a group like that."
(On staying with the same lineup...) "It's important to keep evolving and to keep evolving as a group. I think we played this lineup, as well, against Chivas down there. The more time they get together the better it is. Certainly with Leo dropping out we can bring in a Burch. There's Steve Zakuani that can still step in and play. Mario Martinez, when he's still around, can step in and play. David Estrada is coming back, Sammy Ochoa has played well. We still have options that we can bring, but it's good right now to get ourselves into a rhythm and for that group to get some understanding because they really haven't had a lot of time together."
(On Fredy Montero's goal...) "We were wondering if he would get MVP without scoring a goal [laughter]. Obviously, you're there and you got to be there and you have to put pressure on. If Danso doesn't get his foot on the first one, Fredy is there to put it in. And the same thing with the second one, so Fredy is hitting enough of the ball. If they give Wondolowski the goal they gave him the other night, then Fredy deserves that one."
(On the knocks to the head that Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke took...) "Dike has got a hard head, sort of like a Mike Tyson-type guy. Obviously, Kennedy was able to get through it. Our concern with Kennedy was where he was cut and to make sure his eye wouldn't swell up and he would not be able to see as well. Parke was a little bit nauseous, so that was a concern, but then at halftime he felt alright. We were watching that and I think Zach Scott had to warm up an awful long time tonight not to get in the game, but we felt if we could get through it would be good."
(On the play of Brad Evans...) "There's certainly things about Brad's game that he can get better at, without a doubt. He knows that as well as anybody. There's a lot of dirty work that he does, there's a lot of different elements that he's able to provide. All of a sudden, something happens at right back and he can go back and play right back...He went back there and played for us at center back. His recognition of when to slide into the middle defensively when Tiffert and Rosales vacate the middle is something that's very important to that whole thing to work. You have to have the athleticism to get in there, but you also have to have the ability to recognize that's where you need to be right now to cover. He does a lot of those little things for us that are important."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On the game tonight...) "I thought the response by the team was great. I always say that we need to know the importance of the game, and for us the Cascadia cup is still very important. We want to try to win as much silverware as we can this year. We knew it was going to be a positive end to the week. We had great training sessions, and everyone was tuned in. We talked about playing every game as if it is a playoff game, and we wanted to get something out of this big game. We knew the crowd was going to be good tonight, and having 67,000 people behind us really helped tonight."
(On how getting to know each other better as a team is creating opportunities...) "I think getting an understanding of each other and playing with each other, and pulling each other aside at water breaks to try to go over what we are going to go in certain situations. I think we are starting to gel. Especially Fredy [Montero] and I. We are starting to build a relationship that Sigi [Schmid] talked about us having at the beginning of the year.
(On your goal celebration...) "I am all for this rivalry. I couldn't wait to play today. They had my number last game, and I wanted to get off to a better start today. It was a great ball by Brad [Evans]. We talk about crossing and finishing, and when you are in the box just trying to redirect the ball and get a foot on it. One went in tonight."
(On trying to take the spot of public enemy number one in Portland...) "I will leave that to Roger [Levesque]. Roger is one of a kind, but his motivational speech before the game definitely gave us a boost. Just having him and his positive energy around helped us before the game."
Michael Gspurning - Seattle FC Goalkeeper
(On how big the crowd was at the beginning of the game...) "The atmosphere was great. Nobody wants to go home today and that was great for us. The Cascadia Cup is still a goal for us so this win was good. It is a great day for Seattle, but we have to stay grounded and look toward the future."
(On what staying grounded means for this team...) "It was a great game, but we had a lot of great games this year. We can enjoy what we did today, but come tomorrow we will have to look toward the big games that we have in front of us."
(On the Portland Timbers...) "I think it was a really good game for both teams. Portland had some really good chances to score and I think that made it a really good game for all 66,000 fans. We didn't want to disappoint our fans, so the shutting them out and our strikers scoring was great."
(On the play of Seattle's central defenders today...) "It was amazing what the guys in front of me did today. Even with the head injuries, both central defenders did a great job. Adam [Johansson] was fantastic with his overlapping runs. It was a great team statement today."
Mauro Rosales -- Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the atmosphere...) "It was amazing and we were getting 100% from everybody. It was the last game of the year playing against [Portland] and we were able to win 3-0. That is something we can enjoy until next year. We really wanted to do a great job today and we did it. I am really happy with us."
(On the team coming together at the right time of the season...) "Today wasn't the game that we had to play pretty, but it was the game that our character and our desire would win the game. Today we gave everything we had and we were able to score three goals. The people are happy and that is the best feeling that a player can have."
(On the play of the offense...) "I think the work effort was there, the running was there, and offensively we created chances. We could have been more patient and created more, but I think everyone was working very hard to score in front of these people. We are going to have to keep working hard. We don't know what is going to happen in the future, but we will just have to keep working hard."
Brad Evans -- Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the atmosphere...) "There are certain games that you always remember. Obviously the inaugural game was one where you walked out and got chills when you saw the crowd and you get pretty emotional. There have been a few of those moments, but tonight topped almost all of them. It was just phenomenal. I mean the support was unreal and I think we put on a good show for the people."
(On the offensive production...) "I think we played cool, collected and calm. We connected our passes and played simple when we needed to play simple. The most important thing was that we finished our chances. We put ourselves closer to that second spot, and if not, we secured third place."
(What did you see when setting up two goals tonight...) "I saw some gaps. The movement from Fredy [Montero] and Eddie [Johnson] was phenomenal tonight, so credit to them. It makes it easier when they are moving and playing with each other. We talked about it before the game, if they are physical then they will win the headers and the physical duels. That makes it a lot easier for the midfielders to make plays. From that standpoint, we played to our game plan and we executed. We were fortunate to get three goals."
(On the difference in play of the midfielders this week...) "I think we got a little disjointed last week. We found ourselves drifting out too wide and creating lanes in the middle. Tonight we talked about interchanging and we do need to interchange in that position. Tonight I thought [Christian] Tiffert found himself on the left then he was playing like a left midfielder. If I found myself playing defensively, then I have to play like a defensive midfielder. We stuck to the plan and executed well. The most important thing was that we executed our passes."
(On the play of the defense...) "All four have the battle wounds to show that they didn't back down from any battles tonight. That is going to be key going against San Jose, LA and Salt Lake. With the firepower that they have we cannot afford to go in halfway. We have to go in with full commitment. If getting a couple of stitches after the game means getting a shutout, then so be it."
Gavin Wilkinson - Portland Timbers Coach
(On the result...) "We were playing pretty well then went through a 10-minute spell there where we scored an own-goal and never recovered. It was a shame because there was some decent football being played up until that point and we dug a big, big hole for ourselves. The back line lost their shape and we were lucky for it to not be 3-0 down in the first half. I think Donovan (Ricketts) pulled off a phenomenal save, but once you're 2-0 down you've got a big hill to climb."
(On a communication breakdown on the back line...) "I think maybe there was a little bit of unfamiliarity. Those two haven't played together an awful lot. [When] you make a change in the middle of the back obviously there are a few concerns and chemistry is one of them."
(On the decision to start Rodney Wallace...) "Again this is an experiment to look at next year. Steven (Smith) has had tight hamstrings and we're coming into an environment where the pace of the game is such that we're expecting to get a little more out of Rodney. He's also done very, very well for us. He played left back against Seattle at home. Steven has also done well. It was a tough decision based on the health of the players, the direction of the team. We've got some decisions to make about players so it's important to put Rodney in this environment and see how he did."
(On how differently Seattle played compared to last match in Portland...) "They had a lot more mobility in the midfield. They had a lot more freedom and kept the ball moving. They caused problems. (That's what happens) when you've got mature players that understand the game and understand what is expected, and we had problems solving it."
(On if the crowd was a factor at all...) "I think maybe you look at that and maybe throw that into the equation, but we were managing the game quite well. If you start to look at the chances created, they put their chances away, and we didn't. We gave them the first goal and the second goal was terrible defending. There's no excuse for that at this level. Eddie Johnson is a player you have to be aware of at all times, especially when the ball goes wide. You look at where most of his goals have come from and they're from crosses into the box so it's no different."
(On Seattle pressing up the field...) "We have to move the ball a little quicker. We sat a little bit and our movement off the ball was a little bit slow. In a big environment you want players to play well and sometimes when things aren't going well, one or two players start hiding a little bit. That's not a go at the players, it's just the environment. The score line - we gave them the first goal, poor defending on the second one. We had some decent chances and didn't put the chances away. Their keeper pulled a few good saves and that kept them in the game."
(On whether his team was ready for this moment...) "Obviously not. It's frustrating. Coming into the game, we would've said yes. Preparation went well and the players were looking forward to it. Today there was a great spirit at the team breakfast and pre-match meal. Coming into it, it was a strange environment, and it was 10 minutes that created the result. You take 10 minutes out of the first half where we were absolutely horrendous defensively and didn't manage the game well at all and were scrambling. We then started to create some decent movement and decent chances, but I think we handed it to them."
(On what he learned about his team tonight...) "We have the mentality that next year if fortunes being different, this could be a playoff game and it means an awful lot coming into this environment and how do we cope. Are we mature enough? We learned a little tonight about certain individuals. It's going to be an evaluation process through to the end of the year. It was important to see a few players in different positions so we could go into the offseason making the right decisions."
(On the Cascadia Cup...) "It's very, very important the way our season has gone. Our fans deserve a lot, lot more to be honest. That's what I'm most disappointed about, to be honest. We have such tremendous support and such great fans - we saw a lot of them here tonight - but they deserve a little bit more. I'm disappointed."
David Horst - Portland Timbers Defender
(On the team's performance...) "We didn't need motivation; we didn't need inspiration. We didn't need anything coming into this game and I don't think we got the job done tonight as a whole team all over the field. They beat us to a lot of balls. They beat us to balls in our own box and scored. We're not going to win games when we play like that."
(On readiness for big stage...) "I think we were very surprised with the result because we've always gotten up for big games. Tonight, I don't know if we just didn't have it or what but we just didn't show up."
(On second goal...) "On the second goal they had the ball on their left side and they were coming down. (Mamadou Danso) stepped into the midfield and a midfielder made a run in behind him so I covered him and I had to go with that guy. That left Eddie [Johnson] open in the middle. They crossed it into him and there was no cover. Eddie had a great finish."
(On not winning Cascadia Cup after second opportunity...) "It's extremely disappointing. Hopefully the third time's a charm two weeks in Vancouver. It's a good thing we have another shot at it. We can't get down on ourselves that we just lost to Seattle. But the good thing in the Cascadia Cup is that we have another shot at it. We're not going to let the same thing happen again in Vancouver. We're going to go up there. We're going to be ready this time and it's not going to happen again."
Jack Jewsbury - Portland Timbers Midfielder
(On the resuIt...) "It's very disappointing. I think you can see that on everyone's faces right now. In the locker room we're disappointed. It's a matter of ten or fifteen minutes where we have a lapse and then they made us pay for our mistakes."
(On readiness for stage...) "Yeah, absolutely. I think when you're on the road especially-we've talked about this all year-you have to minimize the mistakes you make defensively and when you get chances on the offensive side, make the most of them. I thought we had enough chances on the offensive side to get ourselves back in the game. We just weren't able to put that first one away so it's definitely disappointing but the reality of it is that we've got another one in a couple weeks against Vancouver and that's the last bite of the apple there to get the Cascadia Cup and hopefully we can bring it home after that one."
(On the approach to the match...) "I think at times in the first half we settled the ball down, especially towards the end of the first half. We knew it was going to be hectic, like I said all week. The first fifteen minutes there's going to be a lot of energy. Coming out of the locker room, there was that. They pinched a lot of guys inside so their midfield was basically a diamond and Montero drops in there as well. Obviously they're a good team; a team that's going to be in the playoffs and take a shot at the MLS Cup. I'm disappointed today that we couldn't get the better of them."
(On anything new from Seattle...) "Not really. We've gone over what to expect from them. Obviously they've got some guys up front that are dangerous and they just put it in."