A lot of things went right for the Seattle Sounders in their feel-good win over the Portland Timbers. While most teams have found clogging up the middle and forcing the Sounders to patiently build as the best way to slow the attack, the Timbers seemed more interested in playing their own possession-based game. That opened the door for the Sounders to get out in transition, something we've not seen much of since returning to the World Cup break.
For that reason, we may want to hold off on getting too excited about the Sounders' offense returning to form. It's unlikely other teams will be some hubristic as Caleb Porter's side.
Still, it's worth revisiting what the Sounders did so well in scoring four goals in a league game for the first time since May 31. The first half alone saw the Sounders create seven quality chances, all coming through late runs and/or quick transitions.
13: The Sounders got the counter-attack going early, with their first really good chance being created in the 13th minute when Osvaldo Alonso got a hold of the ball deep in the defensive half. Four quick passes later and Clint Dempsey gets a solid look from the top of the penalty area that he clangs off the inside of the post.
16: As if that wasn't enough of a wakeup call, the Sounders were again racing into the offensive third in the 16th minute. Despite the sequence taking a bit to develop from the back, Gonzalo Pineda made a key switching pass to DeAndre Yedlin on the right side. Yedlin pushed into the offensive third to get the Timbers on their heels before Alonso found Dempsey being man-marked at the far post. Although nothing came of the chance, Dempsey probably deserved a penalty when Diego Valeri was late-arriving help.
18: The Sounders would get their first goal two minutes later. Although it was not really a counter-attack, it did involve a late run from Brad Evans, who connected well with Yedlin before racing past Liam Ridgewell and putting a cross on a platter for Obafemi Martins.
20: Even down a goal, the Timbers seemed to double-down on their strategy. Alonso got it started again by collecting a ball deep in the Sounders' end, touching it quickly to Marco Pappa, who then fed Dempsey breaking up field with a well-placed pass. Dempsey ends up with a solid look.
23: Chad Marshall wins a header off a Timbers corner and Valeri fails to keep possession. Pappa gets there first and makes a acrobatic pass to Martins and the Sounders are off running again. Martins puts Yedlin in with a nice cross through traffic and although the Timbers defense is able to get back, if not for Pappa's shot getting blocked this could have been problematic.
34: Another corner kick counter-attack, this one again being started with a Pappa flick to Martins. Dempsey gets a lot of the glory here because of his lung-busting run from deep in the Sounders' end, but let's give Pappa some credit for the pass that gets it started.
45+: Marshall wins a seemingly innocuous header deep in the Sounders' end, but a couple touches later Alonso strikes a ball over the top to a streaking Dempsey who has somehow been allowed to loiter around the Timbers' end with scant attention being paid. Dempsey takes a deflection and is suddenly in on goal with only Donovan Ricketts to beat, but his shot from a tight angle is saved.
The Timbers finally seemed to address this in the second half and really only gave the Sounders a couple more good looks. Unfortunately for them, though, both of those looks resulted in goals. The Sounders are unlikely to face another defense this year that is so content to let them run, but this was surely a step in the right direction, at least for their psyche.