PORTLAND, Ore. — For large portions of the game, the Portland Timbers dictated the pace and tempo of the match. In the end, it didn’t matter.
The Sounders were out-shot 22-6 and only held 45 percent of possession, but eeked out a 1-0 win over the Timbers on Sunday. The match’s only score came off a Timbers own goal, when Julio Cascante redirected Kim Kee-hee’s cross into his own net.
It was probably the Sounders’ ugliest win of what is now a seven-game winning streak — tied for the longest in a single season since the league stopped settling draws with shootouts following the 1999 season — and also runs their unbeaten streak to 10 games. In addition, the win pushed the Sounders above the playoff line to end a weekend for the first time this season — while also pushing the Timbers below it.
This is not usually a space used for tifo, but let’s talk about this a bit. The Timbers Army is known for their pop-culture references. And I gotta say, this was an impressive piece of art. But essentially casting yourselves as a killer clown who lures children into the sewer? It’s odd.
There’s a lot going on here pic.twitter.com/UxWqD0v43A— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 27, 2018
The Timbers managed to squeeze off 14 shots in the first half, a season high for them. Just two of those were on target and none of them really tested Stefan Frei. It turned out to be emblematic of their evening.
Kelvin Leerdam was eventually forced out of the match in the 59th minute and the Sounders moved into a 5-3-2, with Gustav Svensson moving to center back. For the next 10 minutes or so, the Sounders looked completely lost.
The game started to turn a bit in the 75th minute when Harry Shipp got an open look from about 18 yards out. His shot went high, but it seemed to sway the momentum.
A minute later, Kim pressed high into the attack and Lodeiro found him with a nifty pass. Kim continued his run into the box and put in a low cross that hit off Cascante and may have been hit at the last second by Raúl Ruidíaz.
It's technically an Own Goal, but Kim Kee-hee does all the work to make this happen. What a play. Seattle up 1-0 with 13 to go. pic.twitter.com/o4ihxVUzOA— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 27, 2018
Despite suddenly trailing a match in which they’d been the better team, the Timbers never really mounted much of a challenge after that. The Timbers managed just three shots over the final 15 minutes as they were mostly content to send in crosses, allowing the Sounders a rather eye-popping 15 clearances after inserting Roman Torres.
This is the Sounders’ defensive action map after the goal. pic.twitter.com/FyloPFxGg9— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) August 27, 2018
Lucky number seven
- There’s no reason to pretend otherwise, the Sounders probably didn’t “deserve” to win this one. But a point would have been a perfectly fair result. More than that, the Sounders deserve credit for playing some exceptional defense during this run and figuring out how to do enough offensively to keep getting three points.
- The Sounders have now outscored opponents 16-3 during this winning streak, and are scoring a very respectable 2.0 goals per game even if you discount the two own-goals they’ve gotten.
- But like Cristian Roldan said, you’ve got to make your own luck. The Sounders are doing that in spades.
Above the red line
- This was not the first time the Sounders popped their heads above the red line this year. That was last week, when they were there for several hours. But after a host of results went against the Sounders around the Western Conference this week, a win was starting to feel pretty important.
- Not only have the Sounders moved into fifth, but they are even on points per game with fourth-place Real Salt Lake and are likely to have the tiebreaker advantage over most of the teams they’ll be fighting for playoff positioning with. Getting out of the play-in round seems a bit tough, still, but hosting that round seems entirely plausible.
Cascadia coming home?
- There’s still some work to do, but if the Sounders get a result in their final Cascadia Cup match of the season — Sept. 15 at the Vancouver Whitecaps — they’ll clinch that rivalry trophy that has eluded them since 2015. Although the Whitecaps could still catch the Sounders on points, they would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker.
- There were plenty of players who stood out defensively for the Sounders, but no one filled up the stat sheet quite like Osvaldo Alonso. He completed 89 percent of his 63 passes, made 11 recoveries and six interceptions and won 10 of 12 duels.
76’ — Cascante (OG)
Timbers (4-2-3-1): Attinella; Valentin, Ridgewell, Cascante, Powell; Olum, Chara; Polo, Valeri, Blanco; Armenteros.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Smith, Marshall, Kim, Leerdam; Alonso, Svensson; Shipp, Lodeiro, Roldan; Rudiaz.
Sounders Man of the Match
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