PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders provided a nationally televised taste of one of North America’s best soccer rivalries – and didn’t disappoint.
A 78th-minute goal by Timbers defender Rodney Wallace equaled Sounders forward Fredy Montero’s wonder strike from the 57th minute as the bitter rivals played to a passionate 1-1 draw on a sunny Saturday afternoon at JELD-WEN Field that was seen on NBC.
The result will carry Cascadia Cup drama into the final month of the MLS season as the Timbers maintain their three-point advantage in the fan-based, three-team derby among the league’s three Pacific Northwest teams.
Seattle still have games against Vancouver (Sept. 29 at BC Place) and Portland (Oct. 7 at CenturyLink Field), while the Timbers face the Whitecaps in the teams’ regular season finale on Oct. 21 at BC Place.
As far as the Sounders’ MLS exploits go, with their second draw in their last three matches, they missed a golden opportunity to gain ground on first-place San Jose in the Western Conference standings in a race that also has Supporters’ Shield implications.
Portland temporarily jumped into a tie with Chivas USA for last place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 26 games, pending Chivas’ game later Saturday against San Jose.
A back-and-forth slugfest hit a crescendo when Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and Seattle forward Eddie Johnson collided in the 52nd minute, which left the Jamaican writhing on the ground in pain for several minutes. Ricketts would initially stay in the match, but was forced to come off in the 57th minute for backup Joe Bendik.
And that’s when Montero took advantage, scoring on the restart just seconds later. The speedy forward slid under a goal kick by Michael Gspurning and let fly a right-footed missile from the right corner of the box that beat an unsuspecting Bendik to the top shelf.
But Portland wouldn’t go quietly.
Off a corner kick in the 78th minute, Wallace skied to meet a Jack Jewsbury cross that pinballed in front of the goal before Seattle’s attempt to clear it out of danger pushed the ball just inside the post.
With the game in the balance, both teams got chances at heroics in the final minutes.
Portland forward Bright Dike had a shot that banged off the goal post two minutes into stoppage time, and Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso attempted a right-footed blast that was cleaned up by Bendik just before the final whistle.
Portland next travel to face San Jose on Wednesday, Sept. 19, while Seattle shift gears to a CONCACAF Champions League match the same day against Marathón in Honduras.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Fredy Montero||Once again, the Colombian proved he is one of MLS' most dynamic -- and creative -- goalscorers. Pure magic.|
|2||Rodney Wallace||He hasn't played much for the Timbers recently, but he took his chance well and held down his flank defensively.|
|3||David Horst||He didn't get a goal this time around, but Horst was still a rock in the middle of the Portland D and timely in the tackle.|