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Sounders vs Portland Timbers: Highlights, stats, quotes

Sunday's 2-1 win moves Seattle Sounders FC into the Cascadia Cup lead and into 6th place in the Western Conference. It also puts them in easy striking distance of home field for at least a round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. It was not the most beautiful soccer, unless you see beauty in maintaining an unbeaten record against the Portland Timbers while playing at CenturyLink Field.

The following highlights, stats and quotes are provided by the club, with the sole exception being the embedded tweet showing expected Goals.


Seattle Sounders FC 2 - Portland Timbers 1
Sunday, August 30, 2015

Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Alan Kelly
Assistants: Corey Parker, Eric Weisbrod
Fourth Official: Allen Chapman
Attendance: 64,358
Weather: Partly cloudy and 68 degrees


SEA - Obafemi Martins 6'
SEA - Brad Evans (penalty) 42'
POR - Jack Jewsbury (Diego Valeri) 58'


SEA - Brad Evans (caution) 24'
POR - Liam Ridgewell (caution) 44'
SEA - Oniel Fisher (caution) 61'
POR - Diego Valeri (caution) 69'
POR - Dairon Asprilla (caution) 83'


Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Chad Marshall, Román Torres, Oniel Fisher; Marco Pappa (Cristian Roldan 63'), Brad Evans - captain, Erik Friberg (Gonzalo Pineda 79'), Lamar Neagle (Osvaldo Alonso 66'); Nelson Valdez, Obafemi Martins

Substitutes not used: Troy Perkins, Zach Scott, Dylan Remick, Chad Barrett

Total shots: 6 (Evans/Pappa, 2)
Shots on goal: 3 (Three players, 1)
Fouls: 12 (Evans, 3)
Offside: 2 (Martins/Roldan, 1)
Corner-kicks: 4 (Friberg, 3)
Saves: 5 (Frei, 5)

Portland Timbers - Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell - captain, Jorge Villafana (Rodney Wallace 83'); Jack Jewsbury, George Fochive (Dairon Asprilla 78'), Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe; Fanendo Adi, Lucas Melano (Maximiliano Urruti 83')

Substitutes not used: Jake Gleeson, Norberto Paparatto, Taylor Peay, Michael Nanchoff

Total shots: 20 (Jewsbury, 5)
Shots on goal: 6 (Three players, 2)
Fouls: 17 (Fochive, 5)
Offside: 0
Corner-kicks: 7 (Valeri, 7)
Saves: 1 (Kwarasey, 1)




Opening statement:

"We can talk about a lot of things. The most important thing is that we got three points. Sometimes you've got to find you way into a rhythm and [regain] confidence through hard work, and today was hard work, I don't think it was beauty. The first goal was a great effort put in by Nelson Valdez and others scraping out the ball, and Obafemi Martins jumps out and scores the goal. On the second goal, we felt we could behind them. Oba makes a hard run and sacrifices himself and draws the penalty kick. Outside of that, their play was probably better than ours at times - I am not going to say the other way around. Sometimes when you go through what we've been through - injuries and all that - you're looking for the three points, you're looking for your team to work hard and battle...It's the first time Marco Pappa has played with that group, so there's obviously misunderstandings. It's the first time Erik Friberg has played with Pappa, so there's a lot of things we are trying to work through, as well. What's important for us - as we continue to work through all of those things - to continue to fight and battle as a team and get three points whenever they're there."

On Stefan Frei's performance:

Stefan - as I said last year and this year - I thought he improved consistently last year and through the end of the year I thought he was one of the best goalkeepers in the league and I still think Stefan is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. I don't think he gets mentioned in the same breath as some of the guys and I think that's a shame. I know he had the MLS Save of the Week last week and that save he made on Lucas Melano in the first half was very critical. On a ball that Tyrone Mears misread and didn't react quickly enough, all of a sudden Melano is on a breakaway and Stef makes a great decision and snuffs it. I think he is one of the top goalkeepers in the league."

On the foul that led to the penalty kick:

"The goalkeeper knocked [Martins] over... I haven't seen a replay on it. I asked the fourth official why it wasn't a yellow or a red, and I was told his communication device wasn't working, so that was the end of that conversation...I haven't seen the replay, but I have seen red cards given for that same play. I think that's one of the areas where this is still a lot of inconsistency with the refereeing. Some guys will call the penalty and give a yellow; some guys will call the penalty and give a red. Some guys won't give anything. It's very inconsistent."

On a less hectic schedule to finish the season:

"We are looking forward to the fact that now we play as many games in the next two months as we played in the past month. Now we get some time for guys to get to know each other in training, and we can work on some things. It helped that we sort of kept this group behind a little bit so they could work. Basically our back four with the exception of Tyrone Mears was left behind, so those guys could work together. I think that helped us in this game a little bit...Being able to train, continue to get guys fitter - guys are becoming more and more game-fit. Things happen in a game. For example, we wanted to make a certain move, but then [Erik] Friberg had taken that shot at the end of the first half on his back, and his back started to tighten up on him and that affected his play. Valdez needed to come out because he was struggling. We knew Pappa couldn't go 90, we knew Lamar Neagle couldn't go 90 because of their fitness levels and because Neagle just played 90 minutes on Wednesday. It will be nice to not have to worry about those things going into games."

On the result:

"It was a hard-fought win. The results that become turning points for you are the ones where the team realizes, ‘Wow. That was a team effort.' Everybody rolled up their sleeves and battled for each other, fought for each other. I think that's the feeling in the locker room. They are tired, they know they can play better, but they also know they got a result through grit and determination today. They set a goal for themselves today to get to three points, it didn't matter how."

On Osvaldo Alonso's performance:

"It was good. We wanted to hold him less than 30, we thought maybe 15-20 was ideal. At that point we needed to go a little bit earlier. I told Ozzie, ‘It's a fast game. They aren't giving us a lot of time to settle the ball, so make quick decisions.' It's hard when you're sitting on the bench to enter a game like that, and especially when you're playing more of a defensive position, to catch the rhythm of the game. I thought Ozzie did a good job of catching the rhythm of the game. He made a couple of good defensive plays for us as well, and he also helped us settle the ball."

On today's lineup:

"Our hands are tied a little bit. Andreas Ivanschitz is still injured, he's an option there at that position. Clint Dempsey is still out - if he's available maybe it's a little different formation and he can move people around. If Ozzie is available, then maybe it allows us to play like we did at the end with Evans on the outside. Based on the personnel we had, we felt those were our best options."


On how this match compares to the win over Orlando City:

"I think every game takes on their own character and it's the way the guys approach it to be honest. The way that the team approached the Orlando game was not the way that everybody was approaching the Salt Lake game. So from that stand point I kind of new beforehand that it wasn't going to be the same game. Today it was the same way that we approached the Orlando game. Everybody came out fighting from minute one. There wasn't one guy who you kind of had to yell at him to get him going. It was one of those games where we knew we had to win."

On if it's easier to get guys going when you know you have to win:

"Yeah of course. I think as your back gets pushed further and further back into the wall at some point you have to make a stand and everybody has to be collectively together and today was one of those days. And now it's a test for the whole group. Whoever comes in when guys are missing for international duties, can we do the same next week? And that'll be the telling story for the end of the season. Can we do it consistently to get ourselves into the playoffs and make a run at this thing? But if I could see the future then I could tell you that's going to be the case but reality is I can't say what other people are thinking in their head when they're coming into a game situation and next week hopefully after the game we can say we were right."

On playing with Friberg:

"I think it was good. I think we were overrun at times still with [Diego] Valeri and us two playing against three and sometimes four when [Darlington] Nagbe tucks in, so sometimes it's a game of laser pointer with the dogs and we're turning our heads and running in circles, but at the end of the day as long as we feel we have cover from the defense which we did tonight and the forwards battling and holding up the ball that it makes our job worth it in the midfield to stretch their legs."


On the importance of the game:

"Big three points for us at home and especially against the big rivals. So, especially with games - there's not too many left so the thing is that all of the teams we're playing in the future, they're all tough, tough opponents. Today was no different but really a big three points for us."

On the defense:

"They put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the second half. First half I had to make a couple saves but I think second half I was more the one watching and our defenders were doing the hard work and the dirty work so that was more nerve-racking for me in the second half because they put so much pressure on us, trying to put crosses on the ground behind our defense, but Chad [Marshall] and also Román [Torres] had a couple really big interceptions for us and then I think you also see at the very end with the last free kick, it's do or die. We had a talk about attacking as 11 and defending as 11 and I think it was Nelson [Vadlez] that comes up with the big deflection on the free kick so it's just knowing that there's only so many games left so we're going to have to bring it for 90 minutes-plus and it's really nice to see Nelson there at the end, a striker coming through defensively."

On his save on Lucas Melano:

"At first, starting-position wise, you try to stay connected with your defenders and then it kind of is bouncing weirdly almost to the right a little bit. And I feel like I'm not going to be able to get there cleanly so I just decide to stay back and see how he takes up the angle against me and then just come out, stay big and not go down too early. And luckily he hit it at me."


On the rivalry:

"This is how derbies are. They are tough, they are difficult. You don't always win in a pretty way, but you have to fight. Today we fought."

On comparing this atmosphere to other derbies in Europe:

"I have played 15 years in Europe, and it is indescribable to say how incredible and beautiful it is to play in this stadium."

On playing for his first postseason in an MLS playoff chase:

"I understand what it is - and I came to win that. I came to win and I came to [chase] the top place, and be able to qualify and fight for a championship."

On communicating as a team with new players throughout the summer:

"I believe that we are gaining a better understanding of each other, and we are improving in that area. When we are on the field, we are working together very well, and we are working with each other to understand each other. I believe that as we continue to make plays and play in games, we will continue to improve on those things."


On the match:

"I thought they were outstanding today and we deserved more out of the game. I thought Seattle was fortunate, but that happens in football. They feel good, they get the points, we feel bad, we don't, but I thought we deserved more out of the game."

On if taking control from the start was the plan:

"Our plan was to come in and go toe to toe with them. I thought we did that and were far and away the better team. I thought the official was very poor. I'll stick with the theme of coaches complaining this week. The reality is I call a spade a spade and the official was very poor today."

On how the penalty affected the match:

"Obviously they go up 2-0. I thought the first (goal) was a bit unfortunate as well. There may have been a couple fouls in there. We have to do better and clear the ball as well. That was the first time they really smelled our goal. They had nothing. I can't even remember one time during the game when they broke us down. Their high-powered, big-budget team had trouble. They couldn't create much on us and they get out of this game with three points off of a poor first goal and then a PK."

On what positives to take away from this match:

"We need to continue this positive play. We have seven games to go and our next three of four are at home. If we take care of business at home, we're going to be in a good spot. We can't get frustrated. There were some things that happened in this game that we felt hard done by, but we need to continue our positive play. If you look at the second half versus Houston and both halves tonight, if we play like that, nine out of 10 times we're going to win. I'm really pleased. This game can be cruel, but I've learned over time, it comes back around. It'll come back around in our favor here in the next seven games and even out. They come out on the winning end. Don't know if we deserved to lose, don't know if they deserved to win, but that happens in football. You move on from it."

On the officiating:

"Like I said, I'm sticking with the theme of we're coaches, we're all ambassadors for MLS and want the game to grow, but I thought the game was very poorly managed by the official. And he's an experienced guy, but he seemed to be sleepwalking through the game. It wasn't anything where he was biased toward one team or another or unethical, I just thought that he was very poor. Just like coaches have poor games and players have poor games - he had a poor game. It seemed like he wasn't ready for the intensity, wasn't ready for the magnitude of the game, kind of strolled around and just didn't seem like there was any consistency in the foul recognition. That's the frustrating thing. When you go into a game, officials see things differently, but you get a sense right away of what's a foul and you can kind of adjust to that. I have no idea what a foul was today. No idea. Some were hard fouls not called, light fouls called. For me, it seemed like it got away from him. He probably knows it as well, but there needs to be some accountability. We're all under pressure to perform and the officials need to be under pressure as well. I hope Peter Walton is watching this game. We've come up with this great organization PRO, but I hope that we're evolving and growing these officials and that we're not turning a blind eye to their poor performances. In this game, with two good teams, rivalry game, a lot at stake, we need a better referee. Like I said, I think he is a good official based on the games I've watched in the past, but today, he was very poor."

On the performance of George Fochive:

"I thought our entire team was very good. On both sides of the ball. You hold a team like Seattle, with the talent that they have, to six shots and maybe one or two on goal - you have to be organized and be up for it. I thought we were up for it, we battled right from the start. We had a couple chances early and we were the ones pushing and the first time they're in the box, it's in the back of the net. Then it's the PK, but our response in the second half was outstanding. We pulled a goal back to go 2-1 and were in position. They're hanging on. Listen, we leave a bit of a marker I think, even though we didn't get the result. We leave a marker for the next seven games. If we continue this, we're going to get points. Sometimes short term you feel a little bit hard done, but it'll even out."

On if he has any concerns about his team finishing:

"No. If you get chances, you're going to score goals. I think there will be a few guys that are disappointed about that finishing touch, but if you keep getting chances, you're going to score goals. I've seen that. It doesn't matter who is in those situations, you're eventually going to find goals. It's a bit unfortunate. I thought we should've leveled it at 1-1 with the breakaway. The game is different if we find that goal. Then we missed a couple clear ones to go 2-2 so I thought we at least deserved a point under the situation and circumstances of this match."


On the frustrations of today's game:

"Yes it was frustrating and obviously it was not the result we wanted but it was the performance we were looking for. We wanted to come here and not just sit back and defend but attack and I think we showed that throughout the whole game. It was maybe 20 shots to six at their place so we are happy with the performance but obviously let ourselves down for a few moments. I have not seen the PK and maybe it was a little questionable and maybe looked a little soft. We can look back at the tape and there is obviously some things we can still work on and get better at going into the KC game."

On how the team is feeling:

"I think everyone in this locker room knows we played well today. If it was the other way around maybe we would want to erase it but when you play well and things just don't go your way then it is easy to pick yourself up for the next game."

On if the team is worried about the finishing:

"No. Not at all. I think we got very capable people on the front four and five that are going to continue to create chances. If we were not creating chances then I think then we would be worrying about things but when you go on the road in a tough place to play in a rivalry game and create as many chance as we did tonight then we are not worried about it at all. Yes we would love to finish a few more of them and get out of here with three points."

On their current position in the standings:

"I mean we know what is at stake and where the line is. We also know we have four of our last seven at home. If we take care of business there we should be fine."

On his goal:

"I looked like to me it was the inside of my right foot.I just tried to get something on it once it crossed the front post."


On defending Brad Evans' penalty kick:

"I spoke with the scout and he told me that normally those that take penalties shoot certain ways. We had not looked at Evans penalties but we knew his last penalty had gone to the goal keepers left so that is why I went there."

On if he agreed with the PK call:

"It was defiantly not a penalty the way I see it. I'm coming out and I'm standing and I'm stopping and he is kicking the ball and the ball comes over his head and he is kicking the ball and he is jumping over me and falls down. From his reaction and everything you can tell he didn't feel he was fouled. I think he was surprised he got a penally on that. I can't stand anywhere else on that play, so I'm disappointed he called a penalty on that play because two-nil down is hard to come back against. It kinda destroys a little bit of the game."

On the first goal:

"We had multiple chance to clear the ball and we should just clear the ball and don't let them get a chance to finish. We just have to learn from that."


On the significance of this game:

"I think that it was a good game for the fans and the playoffs. Every game from here on out is the most important game of the season. Is it bigger than any other games? It was the biggest one on our season thus far and then this next game vs. KC at home is going to be the biggest one."

On how they compared to Seattle tonight:

"I wouldn't say we almost outplayed them. We defiantly outplayed them tonight. Any casual supporter officinal of soccer would agree with that statement. We also played as a team."


What was the infraction that led to the penalty kick awarded to Seattle?

"Careless challenge by Portland GK Kwarasey on Seattle's Martins."

Why was Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey not shown a red card for the foul?

"Martins' touch pushed the ball at relative speed towards the endline. I believe that Martins did not have full control of the ball, thus in my opinion not making it [an] obvious goal-scoring opportunity in accordance with the law."

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