A goal from Dempsey – his fifth against the Timbers this season – was sandwiched around a Martins brace and Chad Barrett goal to give Seattle two wins and a draw against their Cascadia rivals to the South in this year's regular-season series. A 73rd-minute goal from substitute Fanendo Adi, who also converted in stoppage time, gave the Timbers late life, but Martins’ final strike three minutes later quickly snuffed out the rally.
The comprehensive Seattle performance sapped some of the gusto from what started as a raucous atmosphere complete with an elaborate tifo display, a positive sign for the Sounders who have scuffled along with some lackluster outings over the past month. Their first win since they beat the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 10 puts Seattle back in the sole No. 1 spot in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings with 45 points from 24 games.
Portland’s busy week – which started with a 1-1 away draw last Saturday against the New England Revolution and continued in a 4-1 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Alpha United in Guyana – comes to a disappointing end with the defending regular-season conference champions still on the outside of the playoff picture in sixth place in the West with 31 points from 25 games.
Before the Seattle onslaught, Portland had the game’s first dangerous chance. An Osvaldo Alonso foul on Darlington Nagbe just outside the box set up a Diego Valeri free kick in the 11th minute that ricocheted off the wall and grazed the top of the crossbar.
Seattle hit the woodwork next three minutes later when Martins played the ball in to Dempsey, who found an opening in traffic for a shot that dinged off the inside of the far post.
Seattle wouldn’t be denied on their next chance, however.
In the 18th minute, a 14-pass sequence set up Brad Evans on the right wing, who flew past Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell and rolled an unchallenged cross to a charging Martins for an easy tap-in goal.
Portland had a good chance to equalize at the half-hour mark on a give-and-go between Will Johnson and Valeri. But Valeri’s open shot at the edge of the area was deflected over the crossbar for a corner.
Seattle doubled their lead in the 34th minute on a perfectly-executed counter attack off a Portland corner kick. Martins came away with the Seattle clearance, drove through the center of the park and fed a charging Dempsey for a cool finish underneath onrushing Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Barrett made it 3-0 on a 70th-minute blast through Ricketts’ gloves from the left wing on a feed from Dempsey from the center of the box. Adi then briefly rejuvenated the Portland faithful when he got on the end of a long Rodney Wallace cross and poked it past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei to cut the Seattle lead to 3-1.
But before the green smoke from the Timbers Army could dissipate, Seattle found the back of the net again on a bullish run from Martins and authoritative finish past Ricketts.
Seattle are back in action at home Saturday against the Colorado Rapids, while the Timbers have another Cascadia match on tap the same day at the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Obafemi Martins||The Nigerian forward terrorized the Timbers from start to finish. He scored two goals and had an assist, and his second tally came after some incredibly impressive and nifty dribbling moves in tight spaces.|
|2||Clint Dempsey||He was active from the start, combined well with Martins and had two assists. His first-half tally was his most impressive contribution, running 85-yards to push home a shot.|
|3||Chad Marshall||Aside from getting away with a handball in the first half, Marshall did not set a foot wrong vs. the Timbers. He was a rock at the back for much of the 90 minutes.|