It was a tale of two halves. In the first half Seattle Sounders FC looked a slightly better team than the Portland Timbers. But it was marginal, nothing dominant and if the full 90 went the way of the first 45 either side could have won. The final 45 was a different matter entirely, as Obafemi Martins entered the field of play and Seattle started to dominate.
Conventional stats show that there should be little doubt as to the better side - the one with Clint Dempsey and Oba. The two drift compatible forwards unleashed a shot barrage on Portland. In all the high-flying offense something may be missed. It was another shutout for the defense. They are now up to four of their last seven as shutouts, that while the backline is in near constant flux.
Seattle not only had the higher score, but dominated in chance creation, were better at passing, possession, winning duels. It was a complete performance, and it lasted under 45 minutes.
SEA - Clint Dempsey (Gonzalo Pineda) 71'
SEA - Marco Pappa (Lamar Neagle) 86'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba; Lamar Neagle, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Micheal Azira 87); Clint Dempsey (Dylan Remick 90+1), Chad Barrett (Obafemi Martins 51).
TOTAL SHOTS: 23 (3 players, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Dempsey, Neagle 3); FOULS: 14 (Neagle 4); OFFSIDE: 4 (Barrett, Dempsey 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Pappa, Pineda 3); SAVES: 3 (Frei 3).
Portland Timbers - Donovan Ricketts; Michael Harrington (Kalif Alhassan 83), Rauwshan McKenzie, Danny O'Rourke, Jorge Villafana; Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri (Gaston Fernandez 74); Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi, Steve Zakuani (Rodney Wallace 63).
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber, Liam Ridgewell, Norberto Papparatto, Michael Nanchoff.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Zakuani 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players, 1); FOULS: 17 (Harrington 4); OFFSIDE: 2 (Adi 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Johnson 2); SAVES: 8 (Ricketts 8).
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 31'
POR - Jack Jewsbury (caution) 69'
POR - Diego Valeri (caution) 72'
POR - Rodney Wallace (caution) 90+2'
Referee: Alan Kelley
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly cloudy and 80 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Seattle Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening Statement...) "I thought it was a pretty even game in the first half. I thought in the second half we stepped up the tempo a little bit. We really talked about trying to get our left back (Jalil) Anibaba forward, as well as DeAndre (Yedlin), which we did. We had an early chance off the header with (Gonzalo) Pineda off his cross. Seeing Oba (Martins) and his quickness really helped us as well, it put more pressure on the back. We talked about playing a little more direct at times, which we did, just making sure we don't get caught on the counter. I thought the second half for us was pretty much our game. There were a couple times in the second half where they were close, but I thought Stefan (Frei) was solid when those things got presented and (Donovan) Ricketts was probably the Man of the Match today because he had some big saves where he got his body in front of him....I was very happy with the way our team played. I was a little surprised at how many minutes we got out of Clint (Dempsey) as we did, that was over and beyond the call of duty. It was great to have those guys back."
(On not playing Leo Gonzalez and Brad Evans...) "Leo felt a little bit of a tweak in his hamstring again so we decided to back off with him. Brad had taken a knock on the knee in the game on Wednesday and it just didn't improve, so he feels much better today but not where he could have played. Hopefully he feels better by the time we play Tottenham, and certainly by the time we play LA."
(On bringing Obafemi Martins into the second half...) "One of the thought processes for me was wanting to get Oba onto the field earlier than I normally sub because when Oba is on the field he and Clint have such a good understanding together. When they are on the field I figured they could get some minutes-at least 15 or 20 minutes together-and they kept going. It worked out alright."
(On maintaining focus in a challenging week...) "We get two wins in one week against Portland. We advance in the Open Cup-we are certainly happy about that. But I am just happy at the way our team responded to the challenges of the week. It was a difficult game on Wednesday-120 minutes and then [they] came up to the challenge and responded with a win at home. Obviously Vancouver was last weekend and we started that off and had to come back from that as well, but I think psychologically we dealt well with that-we got focused, we got forward and we were able to continue to have that good spirit of a team that has helped us all season."
(On halftime adjustments...) "At halftime we talked about times where we could get more direct and play more forward. I think we felt we could play behind (Michael) Harrington and (Jorge) Villafana a little bit, and get into those channels. We also wanted to get our backs up a little bit more to tie up their wingers, having to defend. As you saw they took (Diego) Valeri out, maybe because they had to play a little more defense than they expected, especially with Jalil (Anibaba) pushing forward."
(On scoring chances...) "I thought we had a number of good looks. You look at the number of looks Lamar Neagle had, that Marco Pappa had, Clint and Oba were there a couple times and just missed by a fraction."
(On resting Dempsey for a week...) "I think we did the right thing by giving Clint the week off. It gave him time to spend with his family. You look around the league and some guys on teams that are struggling, those guys got right back into the mix to be good teammates...I think we made the right decision, DeAndre had some time off, and he will have a few more days off after the Tottenham game, because I think you need to do that. Clint felt fresh when he came back...and DeAndre is a young kid and doesn't know how to feel yet."
(On Marco Pappa's performance...) "I am very happy when I see Marco play well, and I think he is continuing to grow with this team and as a player. You see him taking more responsibility on his shoulders in key moments...I see his game continuing to grow and develop. There's some good, good defensive moments he's given us on the flank, and that was never considered a trait of Marco's. He's on the field because he helps our attack, not because we want him to be a great left side defender, but he's got to do some of that work and has really grown as a player. He has found a mix and he knows how to find those pockets of space, which are really important."
(On the return of injured players...) "We want to stay in rhythm. We obviously had the World Cup, and a couple of Open Cup games spliced in there, but certainly we want to stay in rhythm and keep people healthy. We got Dylan Remick back on the field-we hope in the next couple of weeks we have Leo Gonzalez to choose from again and Brad Evans will be back into the field, that Djimi Traore and Remick will be healthy. That will make us stronger for the stretch run."
(On positioning in the standings...) "I don't even look. I just look at our own points and I'm happy to see us continue to get points. I am happy we have been really solid at home-at the start of the season we really struggled at home-and since then we have kept getting points and hopefully one day we will look at the standings and say, 'Hey, we have qualified for the playoffs.' For now it's about continuing to play well and get a clean sheet. I know that a lot of people-this is my last diatribe-have said the defense [has not been very strong]. When you look at the numbers now, there are only three or four teams in the league that have a better goals against average than we do. Now our defense doesn't look as bad, where we had taken some goals and scored some goals with our style of play, but also figuring out how to get zero's on the other end of the field."
(On offensive adjustments...) "I think we also did a better job offensively. I think we let them control bigger segments of the game down there and today was more of an even first half and in the second half we were more effective."
(On defensive improvement...) "All of us are defending better. It's not just the defenders, but the midfielders and their understanding. I thought Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda did a great job of finding (Darlington) Nagbe and (Diego) Valeri, who they were trying to push into that hole behind them, and that's something we haven't always done the way we need to, and I thought they were excellent."
(On winning in front of a huge crowd...) "Our guys enjoy playing here. For Chad Marshall-his first year here-and just the excitement he feels stepping onto the field. Our crowd is fantastic. We enjoy playing here. I think the crowd pushes them on, they don't want to disappoint those people. As an athlete you just rise above yourself a little bit. It helps the opponent a bit because they get excited, but our team really has taken it to heart that when those people come they want them to keep coming back, and we are going to put on our best performance and play with a heart and desire."
(On Germany winning the World Cup...) "I am very happy. I am very, very happy. It was a great day."
Clint Dempsey - Sounders FC Forward
(On playing at home against Portland...) "It's fun to be playing in front of a crowd like that, I think like 64,000 but it's more fun when you win in front of a crowd like that. I thought the boys played well today, I thought the defense looked sharp. It was great that we were able to keep a clean sheet. I thought the midfield did a good job on connecting passes and helping with linkup play with the forward in terms of getting the ball into the box and getting good looks and I thought we played a complete game today."
(On returning to MLS play...) "It's always great to play a part in helping the team win, but like I said it's about the team. It's a team effort and I thought we looked really good. I thought we put in a complete performance."
(On monitoring minutes played...) "I try to go as much as I can. I only had a week off so it's not like I lost too much fitness and I felt good and I was glad to play a part in helping the team win. Like I said, I'm just excited to get back and play with this team and I thought we played well."
(On reuniting with Obafemi Martins...) "It was fun, playing with Oba is like playing pickup, just in terms of we just look for each other. We see the game the same. We like to link up and make those passes that create space for each other so that we can create chances for each other to get looks in front of goal. I really enjoy playing with him. He's a great player and he has had a great career and he continues to play well."
(On second half play...) "Well I think the game has to eventually open up. I think the first half was tight. Personally I found it difficult to get involved in the game because every time I looked around there was a defender. So it is about us staying confident, moving the ball, making them work and open them up. Eventually I think they did get tired and the game did open up for both teams a little bit, but I thought we were better in possession. And in terms of creating chances I thought we had better looks in front of goal and I thought that we deserved to win."
(On Sounders FC staying focus amidst changing of kickoff time...) "For us nothing changed. It's an opportunity to play in front of a big crowd, to play against a quality team in Portland, a rival. It's a chance for us to keep pushing in terms of our points total and staying at the top of the table. It's an important game. We were excited about playing in the game and I thought we put in a professional performance."
(On transitioning from international play to club play...) "I've been doing this for ten years. I've played in World Cups and gone back to playing with clubs, it's something that I've gotten use to and I'm lucky and privileged that I'm able to say to do both."
Marco Pappa - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win...) "We were having a good game. We were controlling most of the game and then Clint scored a goal, so I think we were proud about that. We know the season is long, and we look forward to the next game."
(On his goal...) "Scoring goals is important, but what's more important is where we are as a team. We are at the top of the table and we have to continue that way. It's good for me and my confidence to score a goal."
(On the pace of the match...) "We were running a lot. In the past week we have had a lot of games and we were getting tired, but I think that every single day we train and you could see that in the game. Our performance is really good and continue in this way."
Gonzalo Pineda - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win...) "It was a good game. It's always hard when it's a rivalry game and so much emotion. We did well. The first half was tight in the middle of the field, but in the second half we found spaces behind the defense and we scored two goals."
(On his assist to Dempsey...) "I just wanted to hit on the goal, but my shot was a little far from the goal but Clint was ready, and it was good for us."
(On the fan support...) "That's amazing. It's not just that so many people were in the stadium-it is that they are always supporting us and they are always pushing us. We feel that it is good for them because they came today and saw a victory of their team."
Caleb Porter - Portland Timbers Head Coach
(On the match...) "I think a lot of it had to do with fatigue, especially in the second half. In the first half, it was very even and they had very few chances. We made it a tight game, which is what you need to do when you're playing on the road against a team like the Seattle Sounders. There's a reason why they're 38 points at the top of the table - they're a very good team. I thought we made it a game, kept things very tight, but especially in the second half, I thought fatigue kicked in. They're attackers were fresh versus our defenders, who played 120 minutes on Wednesday. Now they're defenders played 120 minutes, too, but I thought some of our attacking guys just lacked some of that pop, especially when we needed a goal. The first goal was the difference and obviously the second goal is attributed to us trying to push and we went to three in the back - we have to gamble to try and level the game. So really that goal and a lot of the other chances had to do with us having to push our line and go a little bit more aggressive to chase the game. You could see that (Obafemi) Martins, (Clint) Dempsey - these guys were fresh. When Martins came on and paired with Dempsey, they gave us a lot of problems. I think our back line just looked like they were tired and you can't be tired running against Dempsey and Martins. And Dempsey proved why he's one of the best players in our country and scored a couple of goals in the World Cup. At the end of the day, you have to credit Seattle. Again, that's why they're at the top of the table. But I thought we made it a game. We did a lot of things well, especially in the first half, but ultimately we wore down in the second half. Those 120 minutes on our guys' legs on Wednesday really caught up with us, and with the injuries we had on the back line, we couldn't rotate, and you could see that a little bit. So we have to move on. This is a game where if we would've gotten three points, it would've helped, but there are more important games ahead - the swing playoff teams. Those potential six-point swings against teams around us are more important than this game, although it would've been nice to get a point or more, but we've got to move on. Right now recovery is key. We had a very long week and gave a lot physically and emotionally, but have to recover and get back to work and get ready for Colorado. That game is going to be very critical."
(On the defense...) "It was just fatigue. The guys were tired going against Martins and Dempsey, who are very good players. I thought we contained them very well. You look at the first half and what did they get? They got a few shots from distance, a few crosses, but they didn't get loose at all. Second half, up until the first goal, they weren't getting a ton of looks. They got a few, but it was still pretty tight. Obviously the goal they scored then it was a whole different game. It's fatigue, we don't have depth, we couldn't rotate and we played a lot of guys who'd played 120 minutes (on Wednesday) and that caught up with us against a very good team - a team with good attackers."
(On how to keep the team moving forward...) "I think it's easy. We need to stay focused on what we need to do. These guys don't get frustrated. They file it away and move on. We know what we need to do - we had a meeting before this game and we know where we're at. We need to keep our eye on the table, because that's most important, but we also need to be aware of points that we need to get and certain games as well. At this stage, you move on and focus on the next game. There's a lot to still look forward to. We're still in the running here. In certain games, with those teams that are around us, we can't give those teams points. We need to gain ground."
(On the turnaround this week ...) "You saw this week that we didn't have the capacity so I think it caught up with us a little bit mostly because the fresh legs they had up front - (Marco) Pappa, Dempsey and Martins. I thought those three guys looked fresh and gave us some problems. We now have five days and had three days last time. It's been a long week. We need to recover. We don't need to rotate. We have five days and that's plenty of time to rest and get ready for Colorado."
(On the fans...) "I'd like to give a shout out to the traveling supporters and I'm sorry that they go home back to Portland without any joy and no points. I'm really, really pleased that they came and I thought they were tremendous tonight, the Timbers Army."
(On keeping momentum after the World Cup...) "Our supporters are always up for it, they always have their 'A' game, so it's our job to make sure we do our part on the field. We have seven home games left and we have a target that we're trying to get to. We know what we need to do and we've got plenty of games to do it. We've seen the table and it's a bit like Pulp Fiction - everybody is killing everybody - so I'm not sure what the line is going to be with regards to the points that get you in. You can't worry about that - you just have to focus on every game trying to get three points, and if you don't, try and get the next one. We can still get to a very high target with the amount of games we have left, if you do the math. Win eight or nine games, we're right there, close to 50 points, and I think that perhaps you won't need 50, but we'll see. We're going to focus on trying to win every game - that's all we can do. But the seven home games, in particular, are crucial. The non-conference games you can gamble a little bit. You want to go for three (points) in those. But the pivotal games are the games against the Colorado's, the Vancouver's, the Dallas', the San Jose's, the Chivas' - those are the games where you can't give up points and we need to make up ground."
Will Johnson - Timbers Midfielder
(On what happened in the second half...) "We had heavy legs from Wednesday obviously. They brought in Obafemi Martins-good player, I thought he changed the game. It really gave us a lot of problems when him and [Clint] Dempsey went up top. It was a tough matchup, so we did our best to contain them, but eventually they broke us down."
(On what Martins did that gave them so much trouble...) "It was just his movement. When it was just Dempsey coming back in the midfield, we could track him. Jack [Jewsbury] and I did a really good job of that for 60-70 minutes, but once they brought in Martins and there were two of them floating back in there, we were outnumbered and they were able to get some combinations off and get more looks than they were throughout the first 60 minutes. But that's what you would expect from guys of that quality coming in the game."
(On whether the game on Wednesday played in role in their performance in the second half...) "I think we were covered well enough, but they put us under a lot of pressure. And obviously going forward, we're a better attacking team than we showed tonight. We were quite poor going forward. We didn't create a whole lot, and that's also credit to them. They're a very, very good team, and they're first place for a reason. It's a combination of factors. There's no one thing that you can blame tonight on. We've just got to move on quickly."
(On Dempsey's goal...) "It's a broken play. On a set piece like that, you've got to stay with the guy and clear the lines. Obviously guys are scrambling, trying to make plays, everything happens so quickly, it's hard when you're trying to clear your line to stay with your guy. And obviously we fell asleep for one minute - not even - one second and a guy scuffs a shot into the ground and Dempsey is wide open on the back post. It's just kind of how it's gone for us this year, but like I said, we've got to pick ourselves up quickly and move on."
Steve Zakuani - Timbers Forward
(On his jersey exchange with Osvaldo Alonso and giving his cleats away to a fan...) "Coming back here, I've seen a lot of familiar faces, so my boots went to a little kid in the stands, who's been watching soccer ever since day one, and I switched shirts with [Osvaldo] Alonso. He's a good friend of mine. We've known each other for a few years now, so we had planned ahead of time to switch shirts and we did that. It was good to be back, but obviously I'm disappointed with the result."
(On how the team stands after this match...) "It's a lot. I mean, we knew how important these last 16 games were. We didn't expect to win 16 games. We knew maybe there'd be a couple of losses in there, this could be one of them, and you know, there's no secret - we have to win some games. Now it's on to the next game, it's back at home, try to pick up three points, but we'll take the positives from tonight. The first half, especially the first 25-30 minutes, I thought we were the better team. Maybe if we'd scored in that period, we'd win the game. Let's not take away from them, they're a good team. There's a reason they're at the top and once they got that first goal, I think it pushed them on. It's not a game that I think we were outclassed or out-played. We could have won the game tonight, so we'll take those positives and in these next 15 games now, we keep pushing and trying to turn as many of them into wins as possible. The goal is to make the playoffs. We're not out of the playoffs, but we have with some urgency now I guess."
(On whether he thinks injuries have anything to do with the team's struggles...) "No. No, no, no. Through the course of the season, you know that there will be games that you have suspensions, you have injuries, things come up, and that's why you have such a deep squad, a deep roster. The guys who were out there can do the job. As I said, I felt we did lose our way a little bit in the second half. For the first half, we were - we matched them for the first half and I think we actually were the better team for the first part of the first half. It's not easy to come in here and do that in this environment, but we did. Again, it's a game where we just take the game for what it is. We lost to a better team on the night, in the end, and we have to regroup for the game on Friday and also remember that at this point, it's about getting into the playoffs and we can still do that. We have to hold on to that hope."
(On what positive moments he'll take from the week in Seattle...) "I think our performances were - again, I think the first half we did well; we had a game plan, we stuck to it, and I'm happy with that. I'm happy with my performance; I think maybe a couple of my shots I wish could have fallen, but they didn't, but overall it's positive. It's what you try to do as an offensive player. I think off the pitch, just reconnecting with some of the people who I was with for five years. You don't just forget them. It was a long time. I had some special words from Sigi [Schmid]. Obviously, you know, I played for him for a long time and he had some kind things to say. Things like that. The GM, Adrian Hanauer, I spoke to him, and obviously the players who I speak to. With DeAndre [Yedlin] I had some words, and Clint [Dempsey], Lamar [Neagle] and Ozzie. I remember those, you know, because those are friends. I know we're competing right now, and we always want to beat the Sounders, but once the whistle blows, they're my friends and people I have a lot of respect for, and I do wish them the best, just not against us, obviously."