There have been precious few meetings between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers where both teams had as much on the line as they did on Sunday. Clint Dempsey and the Sounders were the ones to rise to the occasion.
Dempsey scored a pair of second-half goals — to give him eight in his career against the Sounders’ biggest rivals — and the Sounders got an insurance goal from Cristian Roldan to win 3-1. The Sounders moved into a tie for eighth in the West, but more importantly are just two points out of the sixth spot with two games in hand.
The first half was extremely eventful, though you might not know it by looking at the scoreboard. Seattle had the first dominant spell of possession, coming agonizingly close a couple times early, most notably when Jordan Morris took advantage of a defending error to go through on goal, but his shot went just wide. Osvaldo Alonso had a blistering shot parried over by Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, but the Sounders failed to do anything with the resulting corner. Nicolas Lodeiro had possibly the best chance for Seattle after a spell of attacking possession for the Sounders, when his point-blank header was saved by Gleeson off the line.
The Timbers had their own spells of danger, with their now-trademark counter attack threatening to burn the Sounders multiple times. Brad Evans put in a last-minute slide tackle to stop the most potent of those attacks. After a crazy few minutes in which both Andreas Ivanschitz and Joevin Jones saw yellow cards, the half eventually ended without a goal for either team.
The Sounders came out flying again in the second half, with a spell of attacking that included an excellent chance for Dempsey provided by Jordan Morris, who burned a defender to get into the box and pass to an unmarked Dempsey. But Deuce’s shot went just wide of Gleeson’s fairly open net.
Not long afterwards, though, Roldan was brought down in the box by Portland left-back Vytas Andriuskevicius to give the Sounders a penalty kick in the 61st minute. Dempsey, who missed his penalty last week against RSL, converted the penalty to make it 1-0. Portland responded emphatically, coming up with a couple of brilliant attacks that threatened Seattle’s goal. Luckily, Stefan Frei was equal to them—including a great dive to stop Jack McInerney after the forward had gone 1v1 with him.
Dempsey got further redemption in the 80th minute when scored a left-footed shot that skimmed across the surface to beat Gleeson at the far post.
The Sounders were barely finished celebrating when Lodeiro’s corner was flicked backward by Evans and powerfully headed down and past by Roldan.
The Timbers managed a 93rd minute goal from Fanendo Adi, but it was far too little, far too late for it to really dampen the mood (although it did cost Sounders their free pizza).