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Sounders vs Timbers, recap: Home is where the heartbreak is

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Sounders have now failed to beat the Timbers at home in their last four meetings.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — There hasn’t been much of a home-field advantage when it comes to this rivalry in recent years, a trend that continued on Sunday when the Portland Timbers scored a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. It marked the sixth straight time that the road team had won this regular-season matchup and the third straight time the Timbers had won in Seattle.

The decisive goal came late just as it seemed as though the Sounders had taken back control. Felipe Mora slipped behind the Sounders backline on a perfectly timed run and a well-placed pass from Eryk Williamson. The Timbers Designated Player beat Stefan Frei easily.

Williamson had give the Timbers an early lead, but it had been mostly Sounders since then. The Sounders got the equalizer in the 42nd minute on a well-placed strike from Kelvin Leerdam.

Key moments

2 — Sebastían Blanco goes down with an apparent knee injury after getting tangled with João Paulo and is forced to leave the game.

9 — Eryk Williamson works a very nice give-and-go with Diego Valeri at the top of the box and easily beats Stefan Frei to grab the early 1-0 lead.

40 — Although the Sounders effectively turned things around shortly after the goal, it was around the 40th minute when the chances started to really come. Their best chance was a play that resulted in Steve Clark breaking up a Jordan Morris cross that looked destined for Raul Ruidiaz at the back post.

42 — Kelvin Leerdam scores his second goal of the season, ripping a shot through traffic to tie it 1-1. Jordan Morris kept the play alive with a header in traffic and will likely end up getting an assist.

50 — A poor clearance by Yeimar Goméz Andrade forces Stefan Frei into a very good save on Jaroslaw Niezgoda.

68 — The Timbers caught a bit of a break when Jordan Morris’ cross hit Julio Cascante’s arm, but it was ruled incidental.

82Miguel Ibarra had a good look at the go-ahead goal but his sliding effort at an open goal was off the mark.

83 — Felipe Mora slipped behind the Sounders backline and finished cleanly to give the Timbers a late 2-1 lead.

Talking points

Home is wear the heartache is: It goes against all logic but home teams have had a hell of a time in this rivalry of late. The Sounders had just beaten the Timbers for the third straight time at Providence Park about two weeks ago. The Timbers repaid the favor on Sunday. You have to go all the way back to May 13, 2018 for the last time the home team won a regular-season game in this rivalry and the Sounders haven’t beaten the Timbers at CenturyLink Field since May 27, 2017, which was actually four games in Seattle ago (the two teams’ tied their second meeting here in 2017). The Sounders did, technically, beat the Timbers at home in the 2018 playoffs (although they fell in penalties to break the tie) and they even lost to the Timbers at home in the U.S. Open Cup last year (which was played at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium). There’s really no good explanation for any of this other than the reality the teams seem well matched.

A little sluggish: It would be overstating things to say the Sounders looked tired, but the crispness with which they had played in previous games just wasn’t there. Despite having a decisive possession and shots advantage, the Sounders never seemed to be fully in control of this match. Whatever momentum they had going into halftime after Kelvin Leerdam’s well-struck goal was gone as soon as the teams resumed play as the Timbers seemed to catch the Sounders off guard by moving into more of a high-press. Most of the best chances, especially in the second half, belonged to the Timbers and it’s hard to say the Sounders deserved much better than the result they got.

Unsettled in the back: After some impressively stout defending over the first four games since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament, the Sounders defense simply did not look very good. Despite only allowing the Timbers to take eight shots, six of those were from inside the penalty area and all of those were from dangerous positions. That’s not entirely on the backline — João Paulo, in particular, got beaten badly on the first goal — but the defense does deserve some blame for how many times Timbers attackers were able to get behind them. That’s something the Sounders will need to fix going forward.\

Did you see that?!?

One of the most promising moments of the Sounders night ended with a wonderful Steve Clark save.

He said what?!?

The game in one stat

315 — Not only have the Sounders not beaten the Timbers at home in the regular-season since 2017, but they’ve not even led in their last 315 minutes against their biggest rivals at home. The last time they led was in first-half stoppage time on Aug. 27, 2017 when Diego Valeri equalized.