It seems like matches between Seattle and Portland often end in close, one- or two-goal affairs. But not all of them. On rare occasions, when the play opens up a bit, both Seattle and Portland manage to put in three goals or more and make it a high-scoring, entertaining match.
We’re highlighting two of those games today.
Both came on the road. Both featured penalty kicks for Seattle. Both had lead changes and late-game heroics. Basically, everything you could want in a rivalry match!
Sounders steal late points in Portland
Putting the Red Card Wedding aside, an April 2014 game was the most exciting and memorable match in the modern Sounders v. Timbers MLS rivalry.
After an action-packed first half, which ended at 2-2, the Seattle Sounders looked to be finished after conceding a pair of goals to Portland in quick succession in the 56th and 57th minutes. The Timbers were content to sit back and bunker for the rest of the match, but in the waning moments of the game, Seattle punished them.
In the 85th minute, Clint Dempsey latched onto an Obafemi Martins ball, which came from sub Lamar Neagle’s cross, and buried it — igniting some new energy into the match.
Three minutes later, DeAndre Yedlin was taken down by Ben Zemanski while charging into the box and drew a penalty. Dempsey took the penalty and finished it easily in the lower left corner, giving him a hat trick and securing the draw for Seattle.
Utsugi seals a road win
On the big stage of the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week, Seattle Reign FC traveled to Providence Park on May 5 of this year. It was the first of three encounters between the two teams in 2018 — and it set the bar pretty high in terms of excitement. The second half was action-packed and likely turned a few casual fans into full-time Reign supporters.
Twice, Seattle would take a lead, only to see Portland claw its way back into the match. It started with a Bev Yanez header off a corner in the 36th minute.
Then, Emily Sonnett leveled the match with a corner kick goal of her own — pouncing on a ball bouncing in front of goal. The tie wouldn’t last for long, however. Just three minutes later, Jess Fishlock got brought down in the box, and Jodie Taylor calmly slotted a ball low and to the left, giving Seattle a 2-1 lead.
But why let the fun end there? In the 70th minute, the Thorns again equalized on a Lindsey Horan header. Michelle Betos made a number of fantastic saves for Reign FC to keep them in the match, and Seattle finally pounced on an opportunity in the 75th minute. A beautifully executed corner kick sent a cutback ball to Rumi Utsugi outside the top of the box. With Midge Purce rushing toward the Japanese international, Utsugi calmly cut around the Portland defender and threaded a shot through the slimmest of gaps to put Seattle up yet again.
Vlatko Andonovski later told Sounder at Heart that the corner kick was something Utsugi, Steph Catley, and Naho Kawasumi had randomly tried the day before in practice. It was risky — Purce nearly cut off the ball to Utsugi to spark a counter — but the players were smart enough to read the game and identify an opportunity to try the play. And wow, did it ever pay off.
Seattle was able to hold on for a 3-2 victory and silenced the crowd in Portland.
Day 1: Crucial 1-0 victories
Day 2: Header goals
Day 3: Memorable celebrations