PORTLAND, OR -JUNE 24: Kris Boyd #9 of the Portland Timbers scores a goal in the first half of the Seattle Sounders match on June 24, 2012 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.(Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
In the third Cascadia Cup match of the year the home side Portland Timbers took advantage of early defensive errors by the Sounders to take a two-nil lead. The Sounders would get a goal in the second half from a beautiful series of step-overs and then a threaded shot from distance by Eddie Johnson. While Seattle created more chances, their defense failed to control early and now the Timbers sit in first on the Cascadia Cup table with 4 points in 2 played. Vancouver is in second with 2 points in 2 played and Seattle in 3rd with a single point also with two played.
Seattle's defensive woes started early with poor marking on David Horst. Horst was the set-play target for the Timbers, and though he didn't score the first goal of the match, the lack of attention paid to him was clearly going to be an issue. He scored in the 25th minute. Portland's first goal came off their second chance. Zach Scott did not close quickly enough on Steven Smith who then fed into the run of Kris Boyd who had half a step on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
A bit of greed from Portland led them to try and get a third or fourth goal, with Mike Fucito and Horst getting the best chances at those. Seattle also shifted away from the diamond midfield. That shift led to Brad Evans with two opportunities in the box. He finished neither, but play was much more threatening once he was in the middle.
An injury just prior to half saw Jeff Parke replaced and Evans did not come back out after halftime. Patrick Ianni and Andy Rose came on. Both played solidly, but this left Seattle with one sub left to change the game. Portland was also sub limited by an injury to Khalif Alhassan, who wound up carded for taking too long to leave the pitch.
Besides EJ's brilliant goal, the second half was more defined by blown final passes, a level of chippiness that turned into both Fredy Montero and sub Lovel Palmer getting Red Cards for fighting. Montero's action on the screen only looked worthy of a Yellow, but his earlier treatment should probably have resulted in a Yellow earlier. Palmer struck Johnson in the head.
Late game action did have chances. Cordell Cato was the final sub, coming on for an ineffective and foul prone Alex Caskey. His play started on the left and created but did not get that finish. The Timbers refused to bunker, which led to Seattle ending the game with more shots on goal and blocks, more duels won, more passing and more possession. A game without defensive errors early would mean those kinds of numbers win. But those early defensive errors did happen. They are becoming a definition for the team. Other teams are converting those, while Seattle merely gives people hope. Hope now is not enough.
Where the Timbers can ride this win as some inspiration and start to climb the ladder the Sounders are fading. A team once at the top of the Conference is being rapidly closed by the LA Galaxy. With the mileage on the Rave Green's legs from US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League avoiding the play-in round is a must. At this time there is little reason to think they will do so.