PORTLAND, Ore. — The Seattle Sounders may have failed to hold onto an early lead in their 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals at Providence Park on Sunday. Yet the Sounders will feel encouraged to return home knowing their two injury casualties don't appear serious, and that they responded quite well to both departures.
Midfielder Cristian Roldan left in the 31st minute with a hip flexor injury and defender Chad Marshall exited nine minutes later with his own ailment. While it's not clear if either will be available for Leg 2 on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field (10:30 pm ET | FS1, TSN, TVAS), neither appear to have long-term issues.
"No ligament damage for Chad," coach Brian Schmetzer said of Marshall's knock. "He's a tough kid; he'll be back."
As for Roldan?
"He’ll be fine, too,” Schmetzer assured. “They tried to do whatever they could to keep him on the field. That’s just, basically, a testament to Cristian not wanting to come onto the field. In the end, he couldn’t continue.”
The departure of both players came after the Timbers had already turned around an early one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. And a stronger performance after halftime from a short-handed Seattle squad should build confidence that the Sounders can get the result they need in the return leg.
“That’s why you have a big roster," Schmetzer said in his postgame remarks. "It’s tough to lose two of your starters, but we will continue. We didn’t give up any goals in the second half. It was a little dysfunctional when they came off, but we gutted through it.”
Seattle will advance with a 1-0 win or any victory by two or more goals. A 2-1 win sends the series to extra time and potentially penalties, and all other results give Portland the series.
Perhaps to the surprise of the Timbers, the Sounders began the second half on the offensive, forcing the hosts into their own end for considerable stretches. That resiliency is just part and parcel for Seattle's season, says Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam.
"We’ve had so many setbacks this season, this is nothing for us," Leerdam said. "I’m very positive about what we showed in the second half. Hopefully we can take that to our home game, and I believe we can finish it off."
After scoring the game-winning goal in the first leg, Portland's Sebastian Blanco is expecting a stern test in the second, regardless of who is donning Rave Green on Thursday night.
"Seattle knows that they’re down and they’re going to push for a result," Blanco said. "They’re not going to sit back and wait for us to take the game to them. They’re going to have to come out and win the game. We need to weather that storm, and make the most of our opportunities.”