The Seattle Sounders started this match looking like they had played in Houston at midweek and were missing their highest-paid player. The Portland Timbers, like Seattle, are in "must-win-all-home-games" mode if they are to make the playoffs, and the Sounders just weren’t able to match that energy or sharpness in the hostile confines of Providence Park. However, you would not expect a Brian-Schmetzer-coached Sounders squad to wither so dramatically in Portland territory. But they did, giving up a dismal 4 goals in 44 minutes.
The good news is that the response was strong and immediate after what we can only imagine were some choice words from coach Schmetzer at halftime ("very succinct," he says). Also encouraging is that Nicolas Lodeiro, Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Morris found ways to be effective and dangerous despite missing Clint Dempsey — something they’ll have to do much more of if Clint can’t join them on the pitch in the near future.
Finally, the return of Roman Torres meant a player that can hang with Fanendo Adi in the penalty area, which is great news for future matchups against the Cascadia rivals.
For Schmetzer, the first half won’t define the rest of the season. Instead, they’ll pick it apart and take confidence from their reaction:
"I think the response in the second half was good. What I had asked them to do at halftime, they did. So that to me is a success. It’s not an easy game. It won’t be an easy bus ride, but we will digest everything, we will watch everything, and we, as a staff, will prepare better for the next time."
Seattle Sounders FC 2 - Portland Timbers 4
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Venue: Providence Park
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistants: Frank Anderson, Jeff Hosking
Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz
Weather: Sunny and 80 degrees
POR - Vytautas Andriuskevicius (Jack Jewsbury) 16'
POR - Fanendo Adi 21'
POR - Lucas Melano (Diego Chara, Diego Valeri) 29'
POR - Steven Taylor (Diego Valeri) 44'
SEA - Andreas Ivanschitz (Nico Lodeiro) 47'
SEA - Jordan Morris (Nico Lodeiro, Andreas Ivanschitz) 51'
SEA - Nicolás Lodeiro (caution) 26'
SEA - Andreas Ivanschitz (caution) 45'+1'
SEA - Joevin Jones (caution) 78'
SEA - Nelson Valdez (caution) 90'+1'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears (Román Torres HT), Brad Evans - captain, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan, Alvaro Fernandez (Herculez Gomez HT), Nico Lodeiro, Andreas Ivanschitz (Nelson Valdez 83'); Jordan Morris
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Oniel Fisher, Zach Scott, Erik Friberg
Total shots: 16 (Morris, 5)
Shots on goal: 3 (Morris, 2)
Fouls: 16 (Ivanschitz/Jones, 3)
Offside: 1 (Morris, 1)
Corner-kicks: 1 (Lodeiro, 1)
Saves: 4 (Frei, 4)
Portland Timbers - Jake Gleeson; Alvas Powell, Steven Taylor, Liam Ridgewell - captain, Vytautas Andriuskevicius; Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Lucas Melano (Ned Grabavoy 83'); Fanendo Adi
Substitutes not used: Chris Konopka, Jermaine Taylor, Ben Zemanski, Jack Barmby, Darren Mattocks
Total shots: 15 (Adi, 6)
Shots on goal: 8 (3 players, 2)
Fouls: 11 (Andriuskevicius, 3)
Offside: 1 (Adi, 1)
Corner-kicks: 3 (Jewsbury, 3)
Saves: 1 (Gleeson, 1)
Seattle Sounders FC interim head coach Brian Schmetzer
On what went wrong for the Sounders in the first half…
"A lot. Trying to think of whether I should say [the Portland Timbers] played really, really well or was it something we did wrong. I will accept the blame for the first half. It’s my job to make sure the team is prepared and obviously that didn’t happen. So give credit where credit is due. I think Portland came out, they scored a timely goal on the set piece, kind of started us reeling back a little bit. They had some pick plays on their set pieces that obviously they worked on in training that we weren’t ready for and that won’t happen again. I can tell you that. So give credit where credit is due. I will look at the tape of the first half and then try and answer that and see what I can do better."
On the message in the locker room at halftime…
"Very succinct. Nobody gives up or they won’t play and we’re going to play for pride. Those guys took that one step further. Again, it’s a committed team. After I said those words and a few others, they said ‘Let’s go back and try and score four.’ That came from [Osvaldo Alonso]. We had a good start, obviously, to get two. We just couldn’t manufacture that third one, which might have, might of, it’s a big might, put a little more pressure on them towards the end of the game. But I think we spent a lot of energy trying to get two."
On the absence of Clint Dempsey…
"Well it was a challenge. I’ll put it that way. Something we’re not going to shy away from. It’s a challenge to create opportunities and shots. So I’m looking at the stats and in the first half we only created four. Clint would have helped. I know he would have helped. In the second half, we created 12. That makes 16. So at the end of the day we figured a way out. Maybe that was just because [Portland] was sitting back in and they had four goals ahead of us. But at the end of the day, we need to just continue to try and figure out the right personnel, the right formation to help in Clint’s absence."
On if he’s worried about anything from the first half carrying over for the remainder of the season…
"No. I think the response in the second half was good. What I had asked them to do at halftime, they did. So that to me is a success. It’s not an easy game. It won’t be an easy bus ride, but we will digest everything, we will watch everything, and we, as a staff, will prepare better for the next time."
Seattle Sounders FC defender Roman Torres
On how he felt getting his first minutes…
"First of all, happy to be back. We knew it was going to be a complicated game. We needed to enter with concentration and a strong mentality to give motivation to the team and get ahead."
On coming into the game with the Sounders down 4-0…
"First of all I needed to go in with lots of concentration and motivate my teammates to be able to turn things around and I believe that we scored to two goals and even had opportunities to tie the game."
Seattle Sounders FC defender Brad Evans
On the Sounders response coming out for the second half…
"Two goals in five minutes put ourselves in a good position to bag a couple more. My header, [Andreas Ivanschitz] shot on top of the box, if he’s a little more calm there maybe we find a 4-4. Played Sounders soccer the second half and played like crap in the first half. We played directly into their hands, losing balls in the middle of the park, forcing the ball in the top of the box and that’s their bread and butter. Win that ball and then all of a sudden it’s a four against two or five against three and that’s what they live and die by. They made us pay for that."
His thoughts on the first half…
"I think two set piece goals and another on the break and we’re scrambling. Fourth one as well, another on the break and we’re scrambling again. We come out in the second half and we put them under pressure, guys are chasing the ball, winning first balls, winning second balls. We play wide and we play up in their half. We get a few good chances from that, keep them under pressure. Tale of two halves I guess."
On if there is such thing as a moral victory for the Sounders at this point of the season…
"No. We have to win all the games. We have to try and win all the games. It’s unfortunate that this leaves a sour taste in your mouth for two weeks, but it’s one that we’ll obviously have to think and dwell and now the guys will be absolutely chomping at the bit to get back out there. It’s one where you don’t want to go into a break on a loss, but at the same time, it’s one where we’ll come back on Tuesday, we have four days of training, a little time off and we’ll be fighting for our lives at that point."
Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
On the importance of tonight’s performance, especially the first half…
"Obviously our backs were against the wall coming into the game. We knew that. When you look at how tight the race is. Look at the fact that we lost two games in a row on the road. The great thing about this team, and the way we built it and the group of guys that I have is they don’t dwell on past games, past failures. They respond the way good pros do and they go back to work in training and they get better. I thought that was the key. Our training was excellent this week. We were sharp, guys looked hungry. Usually I know when the guys are going to play well because the training is a reflection. You could tell in training that we were going to play well. So I was pleased to see in that first half us put on such a dominant performance on both sides of the ball, comprehensive. Score four goals, going away it could have been 5-6 goals. Defended extremely well, aggressive, all the things that we want. When you look at the dimensions we had going it’s all the things we want in this team. If we continue to show those same dimensions we are going to be a hard team to stop. [Fanedo] Adi’s hold up, [Diego] Valeri and [Darlington] Nagbe’s creativity coming inside and combining off Adi. Luca’s [Lucas Melano] pace and [Diego] Chara and Jack [Jewsbury] their ability to hold the midfield and keep possession, but also defend and win balls. Then [Steven] Taylor and Ridgy [Liam Ridgewell] really managing that line and playing out of the back as well and starting attacks. They looked sharp, clean and composed and then Vytas and Alvas [Powel] providing width and getting forward and defending in the channels. So we had it all working. The good thing in some ways with the way it played out is we leave the game knowing that we were excellent in that first half and dominated. One of the best first halves certainly of the year. But we stay locked in a little bit by getting punished in that first five minutes of the second half. That experience, we gain more from that than if we just scored another couple goals and put our foot on the ball the rest the game. We gain a lot confidence and we show what we are capable of, but in that second half we stayed locked in and we learn a bit of lesson in not letting our guard down. But I thought the group was excellent in how they managed the end of game after we gave up two goals. A lot of teams crumble and, like I said, that is a great experience for this group to be able to do that to be able to dig deep and get the result. I thought we managed the period of play after the two goals in a very good way. I thought the first goal was a bit lucky. Worst-case scenario. A deflection kind of goes in. The second goal was a good goal for them. A lot of teams crumble, but these guys didn’t. So we use that experience."
On if he changed his tactics at all in the second half…
"No. There’s a natural psychology that happens no matter what you say. The first thing I said was the worst thing we can do is sit back. Naturally you are going to sit back a little bit mostly because the opponent now is down 4-0 and has nothing to lose at all. So they can just throw numbers forward. Really when you look at the first goal it was just a fluke kind of goal, a deflection. The second one I thought we got a little bit too deep on that. Nothing changed in terms of the message from start of game. It’s a difficult psychology up 4-0 you are going to naturally drop in a little bit, but I thought after that we did a good job keeping the ball and should have had the fifth goal we had a couple of really good chances to find a fifth. But we managed the game well to get the three points at the end."
On what he said to the team at halftime…
"A game is never done, a soccer game, in fact you saw this year with us, we came back on a team down 2-0 and won 3-2. And every once in a while you will see a 3-0 that turns into a 4-3. You’ve got the story of the AC Milan-Liverpool UEFA Championship that was 3-0 at halftime and Liverpool ended up coming back 4-3. So those are in the back of my mind. You don’t relax at all. No matter what you say there is going to be a natural psychology that occurs where, especially if you give up an early goal, you start to get a little rattled. I do think there was a period where we showed that but then we fought through it. A big part of it was Darlington [Nagbe] and [Diego] Valeri started finding the ball and it allowed us to get a rhythm. The more we got a rhythm the more we kind of turned the game and took the pressure off. Because what you can’t do is continue to defend and drop in and let Seattle come. I thought after that first goal they smelled a little blood in the water and came at us and got the next one. Then there was about a five-minute period where they came at us again. So if we give up the third, who knows, it gets crazy. But I was really proud of the guys how they fought through it. Like I said I’d rather have that experience in the second half the way it went then us scoring three more goals. Even though I have a lot more grey hairs because of that half and probably a few years off my life when you see the second one go in, that’s great for the team. It’s great for the locker room and it’s great for the guys to be able to weather that storm. We wanted to just make it interesting and just keep the people watching ESPN, locked to the TV."
On taking this momentum to the road…
"We’ve been excellent at home. We've got nine wins and that’s as good as ever our form at home. We have played really well. Today is another example of that. You had the 3-0 last time we were at home. You had the 4-1 against Vancouver, the 3-1 over Seattle, we’ve been dominate at home. I’m real pleased with that because good teams have to be good at home. You have to be dominant at home and we’ve shown that and we continue to show that. The main reason that we haven’t been able to put together result after result is we lose guys in the next game. This will be another situation where we lose a couple of guys, but when you look at our biggest results this year and you guys forget about the past games and lineups and all that stuff. When you look at the next game after our biggest results there are two or three guys out of the lineup and those aren’t decisions. Those are injuries, those are forced moves. So that doesn’t help you continue the cohesiveness and continuity game to game. We are in that same situation again and we’ve got to deal with it. We need guys that get picked to step in and get the job done because we will have another couple of changes because [Darlington] Nagbe and Alvas [Powell] will be gone."
On if there is an added dimension offensively with defenders on set pieces…
"We’ve worked on set pieces all year. Nothing has changed with how we work on them. What’s changed is Jack Jewsbury serving and a guy like this [Steven Taylor sitting next to Caleb Porter in the press conference]. That’s what set pieces come down to. We could practice set pieces every single day for hours on end, but it is going to come down to the guy serving and the guy on the end. That’s the only difference. It’s great to see now that we can add in that club in our bag where now teams have to game plan for our set pieces. They have to worry about that. They have to worry about fouling us. That starts to create a belief on our team that we can score on them and it creates a little bit of a fear in the opponent that we can score on them."
On getting a win against a big rival in an important playoff race…
"It’s great. It’s all about the players. Everybody asks me why we are so good at the end of the year? It’s nothing new to me because I have good players and a good team. Good players and a good team when the pressure is high and the margin for error is slim, when you need more you get more. They get the job done when it matters most and today was a very good example and we are going to need to do that for the next seven games. I like our chances because this is a good group. It is talented group. We are finally healthy and we’ve got a full squad and a full bench. You saw tonight in the first half we trained basically with the same 11 last two weeks, we trained probably seven or eight training sessions with the same 11 and you can see impact on that and we haven’t been able to do that all year. We will continue to build the layers on our team and it’s exciting because we are just scratching the surface of the team we can be."
Portland Timbers defender Steven Taylor
On scoring his first goal and what it means for the playoff push…
"The win was more important. After the Seattle game [last weekend] we were all hurt and all week was tough. The manager was very strict in training; a lot of defensive work. We were just getting back to the basics really. I thought we did the basics very well. We started with a good tempo. I don’t think they could handle us with [Fanendo] Adi up front. He was holding the ball up. I thought our game management was perfection in the first half. It really was. I think we caused them all sorts of problems in through the lines. The confidence was just breathing through the side. For me, it was a joy. I’ve never been involved in a one-sided first-half performance ever in my career. For that to happen today was very good. To get the goal was a bonus, but for me it was all about three points and staying above the red line."
On the rivalry between Portland and Seattle…
"The last two days I drove past the stadium after training just to get the feeling of what it means to the people around here and seeing them queue up. I’ve never experienced that. Back in England, you don’t get that with them trying to get the best seats. I noticed the buildup before the game in Seattle. It was impressive, but today our fans were unbelievable. They were like a 12th man for us. You can see some of the Seattle boys in the first half. They didn’t want to be on the pitch. In that atmosphere we just felt more confident and the confidence builds within the side and I think that showed today."
Portland Timbers defender Vytas
On scoring his first MLS goal as a Timbers player…
"It feels great. Even though we had an amazing game and we scored four goals. In that moment, I didn’t feel that hype, but after the game when everything was done there was a lot of happiness because we did our job. Now is the time to be happy."
On building off this win heading into Saturday’s match against FC Dallas…
"Every day we train well and we’re preparing, so we’re not going to change too much. I think we’re playing good every game."
On scoring at home against a rival…
"I feel even better because I gave up a penalty in the first game, so now that I scored I showed I made up for it and I did it for the fans. All my family was waiting for the first goal, so here we go."
Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On scoring four goals in the first half and getting the win…
"I’m very happy about that. I think it was the best performance of the year. In the first half, we scored four goals against Seattle. We knew that they played on Wednesday against Houston and traveled, so we took advantage of that. We did well with a good performance with four goals. There could have been more goals too."
On the team looking in sync in the first half…
"We know that this part of the season is the most important. This game will give us some momentum for the [upcoming] games. Our goal is to make the playoffs, so now we’ll rest, enjoy this and then think about Dallas."
On the importance of beating Seattle for the standings…
"It was important. We had Seattle moving up a little bit and they got results in the last couple of games, but to be honest we don’t care about the stats now. We know that we need to perform and if we perform we’ll get points. We have been a good team in the last part of the season in the last couple of seasons, so we’ll give everything to keep that situation going."
On whether or not the victory was sweeter because it was against Seattle…
"It was and it was the way [we did it]. The way it was in the first half – four goals and having dominated the game. That’s what we wanted before the game. We could do it. We took advantage in the first half and then we managed the game."
Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury
Overall thoughts on the match…
"This was a massive game for us, especially after last weekend. We knew we needed three points here. We didn’t necessarily draw it up that way. Our first half was excellent. The second half, we would have liked obviously to start it a little bit better and not concede early goals, but at the end of the match we finished the match strong, picked up the points we needed."
On carrying this momentum over to next weekend’s match on the road against FC Dallas…
"Obviously we created a lot of shots in the first half. We finished the ball well and I think on the road that becomes paramount in terms of getting results and getting that first win because when you do get those chances you make sure you finish them because we haven’t been doing that recently."
On where this victory against Seattle ranks for him…
"It’s definitely up there, especially the first half. You come into halftime and the focus was to make sure we get the shutout and there’s going to be more opportunities to get a few more. You think it could really become a special day in terms of maybe putting more [goals] on them and get that clean sheet. Obviously it didn’t go that way and it was a little tougher second half than we would have liked, but at the end of the day it will always be one that you’ll remember because of those four goals in the first half."