SEATTLE — Rodney Wallace did his part to take some of the gleam off Obafemi Martins’ Seattle Sounders debut.
The midfielder came off the bench to bury a header in second half stoppage time to salvage a point for the Portland Timbers in a 1-1 tie at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
Until Wallace’s goal, the Sounders seemed to be putting the final touches on what was looking to be one of the most satisfying weeks in their MLS history.
Seattle had advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Tigres UANL, secured the signature of Martins and even got him into the game as a 70th minute substitute.
But Wallace’s goal kept it from being perfect. The second-half sub was able to find himself with an open header about 10 yards out off a feed from Portland center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste. It caught Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning flat-footed and his defense only spectating as it sailed into the back of the net.
Seattle had jumped ahead early on a goal from Eddie Johnson.
Steve Zakuani picked up a stray pass in midfield and immediately got the play moving in the opposite direction. He streaked down the left side of the field, cut in around the top of the penalty area and picked out Johnson for a one-time finish with an inch-perfect cross in the 13th minute.
The goal was Johnson’s first of the MLS season, but his second of the week and another sign that his early season misses were already forgotten. It was also his fifth career Cascadia Cup goal, three of which have come against the Timbers.
Johnson showed off that rediscovered confidence repeatedly for the next several minutes, as the Sounders threatened to tack on another goal. He slipped past Jean-Baptiste on the edge of the penalty area in the 15th minute, drawing a yellow card when he was pulled down from behind. He nearly added a second goal in the 20th minute, using a stepover to get past Diego Chará and firing a shot that forced Donovan Ricketts to make a diving save.
Portland had a penalty shout on at least one of those tackles in the 24th minute when Ryan Johnson was taken down in the box. Hurtado got the ball first, but appeared to scissor Johnson’s legs on the follow through.
The Timbers had been threatening for much of the match, but had been unable to really test Gspurning mainly due to some well-timed tackles by Sounders defenders Jhon-Kennedy Hurtado and Djimi Traoré.
Seattle return to the field next Saturday, March 23, heading down to San Jose. Portland are off until March 30, when they travel to Colorado.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eddie Johnson||Scored a fantastic volleyed goal, and was the one player on the field who was always dangerous when he got around the ball.|
|2||Rodney Wallace||Can't ask for more than what he gave. Covered well in tracking back defensively, and picked up the equalizer on a clever run.|
|3||Osvaldo Alonso||Wasn't his best game, but his ability to cover for the mistakes of others allows Seattle to counter at almost every opportunity.|