Rarely, if ever, have the Seattle Sounders looked worst than they did in the first 45 minutes of Sunday’s Cascadia Cup clash with the Portland Timbers. Almost from kickoff, the Timbers looked quicker, more organized and even more motivated. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead and looked well on their way to most decisive win in this rivalry during the MLS era, if not ever.
The Sounders managed to at least salvage some pride, scoring two early second-half goals to inject some life into the match. And though they managed to get a few more good looks, never were able to push across the final goal that really would have made it interesting and ultimately were forced to settle for a 4-2 loss.
The second matchup in just a week between the Sounders and Timbers featured just one change for each team from the sides that finished 3-1 to the Sounders last Sunday in Seattle. After the Sounders announced that forward Clint Dempsey would be undergoing medical evaluation for an irregular heartbeat and unavailable for this match, head coach Brian Schmetzer replaced last week’s two-goal hero with new (slash old) signing Alvaro "Flaco" Fernandez. The Timbers’ only change was Fanendo Adi, who replaced Jack McInerney at forward.
The Timbers very much got the better of those changes.
The Timbers were first to strike, taking advantage of the Sounders’ poor set piece defense, as Timbers left-back Vytautas Andriuskevicius scored from a corner kick to put the Timbers up in the 16th minute. The Sounders barely had time to get the bearings when Portland took over again; Stefan Frei failed to gather a shot from Diego Valeri and pushing it into the path of Adi, who fired it home to make it 2-0.
The Seattle defense showed their vulnerability again, when Diego Chara fired a cross to the middle of the box to Lucas Melano, who poked it past Frei for Portland’s third after 28 minutes. After a tame few minutes, the Sounders again failed to properly mark players on set pieces as Steven Taylor freely headed the ball in for Portland’s fourth goal in the 43rd minute.
In the hopes of finding some way back into the match, the Sounders made two halftime substitutions: Herculez Gomez for Flaco, and Roman Torres for Tyrone Mears. This marks Torres’ first match in nearly a year, when he tore his ACL.
It seemed to have some sort of effect, as the Sounders finally broke through after Ivanschitz’s shot deflected off Taylor and into the net in the 47th minute. Just minutes after that goal, Lodeiro found Jordan Morris, who headed it into the top corner of the net to bring the score to 4-2 in the 51st. Morris had a decent chance for a second when he got out on a counter-attack, but with Gomez open at the far post he elected to shoot and the ball was handled well by Gleeson.
The Sounders’ had two more good looks to get back into the match came, both through Evans. It was his centering cross that found Ivanschitz open at the top of the box, but the first-time attempt was mishit badly. Evans also got a good look at a header from a Lodeiro cross, only to put it over.
The loss leaves the Sounders stuck in eighth, four points behind the Timbers for the final playoff spot, but with a game in hand. The Sounders will have another chance to jump a spot in the standings when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 10.