The Sounders’ first Cascadia Cup matchup of the season (the previous Sounders/Timbers matchup, a 1-0 Portland win, did not factor in the Cup) had plenty of buildup, mainly due to the elaborate and humorous “Seattle loves Portland (Maine)” campaign. But regional pride is probably less important in this match than it has been as of late, considering how far down the table Seattle is. The match was largely an even one, but the Sounders never had the lead and they failed to find a third equalizer in a 3-2 defeat to Portland.
Amidst the hype surrounding new Sounders signing Raul Ruidiaz, Seattle had a slightly banged up squad going into the match. The most notable change was at goalkeeper, as both Stefan Frei and third-string goalkeeper Calle Brown were in concussion protocol. Bryan Meredith got the starting nod, his first in MLS since 2012, and the Sounders were forced to sign Phoenix United goalkeeper Zac Lubin on loan to back up Meredith.
The match kicked off in its usual feisty manner — Diego Valeri kicked Victor Rodriguez in the face within the first five minutes, and Kim Kee-hee brought down a Portland attacker and managed to escape with just a foul. Seattle had a few solid chances in the opening 20 minutes, but couldn’t manage to get that final finish. The Timbers’ first real chance on goal happened in the 21st minute, when a 2-v-2 resulted in Meredith pushing the ball out for a corner. The resulting Portland corner saw Larrys Mabiala get a free header at point-blank range, but Meredith showed his quality with a brilliant one-handed reaction save to deny him.
After a pretty bare stretch in which neither team did much in the final third, each side had an extended spell of attacking possession to end the half. The Timbers came close as the Sounders failed to clear the ball a few times in a row, and then the Sounders had their own string of solid chances to end the half, but they also couldn’t find the net. The 0-0 halftime score was more than fitting for what was a very even 45 minutes of soccer.
The second half kicked off with a bang as the Sounders came flying towards the Brougham End, earning a free kick just outside the box. Nicolas Lodeiro fired the kick towards the far post and Rodriguez produced a great header that was saved from close range by Jeff Attinella, but he fumbled it almost into the path of another Sounder. Despite the good start, the Sounders let the Timbers shift the game in their favor almost immediately. Portland earned a corner kick quickly afterwards, and Mabiala nodded in the set piece from Valeri in the 48th minute.
The score didn’t last long, however, as the Sounders charged back up the pitch yet again. Lodeiro weaved his way between defenders before curling a beautiful ball in towards the far post for Rodriguez, who smashed it in with a diving header to even the scoreline at 1-1 in the 51st minute.
The end-to-end battle continued, as a weird miscommunication between Will Bruin and Clint Dempsey turned the ball over in midfield, leading to a quick Timbers counter. Meredith and the Seattle defense couldn’t keep up, and Samuel Armenteros fired Portland ahead yet again in the 57th minute.
The Sounders reeled from the Timbers goal for a few minutes, but they finally sorted themselves out and created a spell of attacking possession that led to a corner kick. Chad Marshall blasted the Lodeiro corner kick into the back of the net to once again draw the match level in the 68th minute.
AGAIN, that scoreline didn’t last long. Portland went ahead for the third time in this match, with yet another Larrys Mabiala header from a corner kick in the 74th minute.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer made his first substitutions of the match in the 80th minute, bringing on Nouhou for Waylon Francis and Harry Shipp for Jordan McCrary. Cristian Roldan dropped back to right back as Shipp took a more advanced position on the left.
The Sounders pushed in the dying minutes of the game, trying to find their third equalizer of the day. But the Timbers held on as referee Ismail Elfath started handing out yellow cards that he seemed to forget he had in the first half. Either way, the home side was tired and out of ideas, and they couldn’t manage to find the net again.