TUKWILA, Wash. — It would be a stretch to call this anything like revenge for the Red Card Wedding of two seasons ago, but a win over your biggest rivals is a win no matter how you slice it. And that’s exactly what a makeshift Seattle Sounders lineup did in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, beating an equally makeshift Portland Timbers side 2-1 on Tuesday.
Despite the circumstances of the match, the fans showed up to Starfire as intent as ever on beating their rivals. Both teams were comprised of players from their respective second teams and fringe squad players, but for a rivalry like this, it didn’t matter.
The Sounders called up nine players from S2, while the Timbers signed similar short-term agreements with 11 T2 players. Even Seattle’s starters who were already on first-team contracts, were mostly players on the fringe of the 18-man gameday roster.
It took only the 3rd minute for the goals to start, as Nouhou took the ball down Seattle’s left side without much resistance and fired in a deep cross along the face of Portland’s goal. The goalkeeper and defenders flailed at the cross, and Aaron Kovar pounced on the ball at the far post, blasting it in to make it 1-0.
The Sounders looked the much better side for the next 30-plus minutes, getting a number of chances after their goal. Nouhou continued to storm down the left side and create chances that caused the Portland defense some issues. Kovar continued to show his experience and skill on the right side as well, terrorizing the Timbers defense regularly. A handful of dicey fouls punctuated the middle of the half, though none were in particularly dangerous areas for either side.
Seattle’s dominance finally started to wane around the 35th minute when Portland started getting a number of dangerous chances. They failed to convert a free kick, but in the 38th minute the Timbers equalized; forward Augustine Williams latched onto a flicked header after a corner kick, heading it in the bottom corner of Miller’s far post. The Sounders almost bounced back immediately as Zach Mathers went through on goal, but his shot was off-target. Despite retaining most of possession after the equalizer, Seattle couldn’t get another and the half finished even at 1-1.
Seattle came back out for the second half with a vengeance, and it took about 10 minutes for them to get back on the board. Some nice work by Irvin Parra to fend off some fenders allowed him to feed Felix Chenkam in the Portland box. Chenkham’s shot struck a defender’s out-stretched hand for a penalty. Mathers converted the spot kick in the 55th minute to put Seattle up 2-1.
Even though the away side pushed for a second equalizer as the clock counted down, Seattle kept a firm grip on their lead until the final whistle. The fifth round draw will be determined on Thursday.