There is one King of Cascadia - Fredy Montero (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
In the most important match of the Portland Timbers 2012 season they could only manage a come-from-behind
road home draw against the Seattle Sounders. Rodney Wallace did manage to draw the Timbers level. The first half was an even contest with each side threatening at various moments, but it was the second half when things opened up. Fredy Montero scored his 7th Cascadia Cup goal off of a Michael Gspurning goal kick in the 57th minute to open the scoring.
With a draw the Cascadia Cup heads north to Seattle and both Seattle and Portland are in control of their destiny. Both teams still have a game at Vancouver and the Sounders are still to host the Timbers.
The match was evenly fought, as the stats indicated. Portland at home is an average MLS team and Seattle is pretty good. While the draw was expected, the Sounders did hold a lead. When leading they have yet to lose in 2012. A tie is in ways disappointing. Long term, the Yellow Card for Eddie Johnson will mean he misses the next MLS game. That match is against the Supporters' Shield leading Earthquakes.
At various moments momentum went either teams' way. There were sequences where Seattle battered the Timbers defense, as well as series where the Timbers took advantage of mistakes. A mid-2nd half moment when Donovan Ricketts and Eddie Johnson collided may have defined the match. EJ recovered quickly, but Ricketts left with either head and/or arm injury. Shortly after Joe Bendik gave up the goal to a piece of Montero magic.
When Seattle subbed Mario Martinez on the offensive posture increased, while the defense decreased. He used some flair in dangerous areas leading to turnovers on what should have been clearances. He also had a key pass and a blocked shot.
The Sounders had 7 attempts inside the 18 to Portland's 6. For all of the complaining about center referee Ricardo Salazar's calls you will not find that his calls were biased, though a bit strict. Long term games called like this will be better for the league than worse as players will be less violent off the ball than they are normally. Both teams were a bit selfish in the box attempting one-on-one moves rather than passes in the box.
This is not a win. It is merely acceptable. It hurts Seattle in their chances to make the CCL (a vital recruiting tool), but keeps them alive in the Cascadia Cup. Mistakes were made by both sides. The referee did not influence the result. On the road, in one of the most difficult environments the Sounders took a point and a Cup back with them. On October 7th the rubber match in the series (and likely decider in the Cascadia Cup) happens. The whole stadium is open.
The goal for fans is simple - sell the whole damn thing out. For the team, it is a request of equal simplicity - three points and a Cup.