SEATTLE — Álvaro Fernández and Mamadou "Futty" Danso traded second-half goals as Seattle and Portland drew 1-1 at Qwest Field in the heated rivalry’s debut at the MLS level. A boisterous crowd of 36,593, including a full section of away supporters, braced a downpour to witness the latest incarnation of a rivalry that goes back more than three decades.
Danso’s 65th-minute strike off a set piece nullified Fernández’s opener in the 52nd minute, as both teams battled hard but created little in the nationally televised match.
Seattle lost Erik Friberg to a left lateral ankle sprain the day before the match, giving Servando Carrasco the start in central midfield. Portland coach John Spencer countered with a rookie of his own, giving 2011 No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick Darlington Nagbe his third start of the season.
In the first half, Portland controlled the balance of play. Wearing their Rose City Red kits for the first time this season, the visitors held Seattle without a shot on goal while posting three of their own. Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller made three saves for the home team, but none appeared too difficult for the veteran.
Despite the fever pitch in the stadium, no yellow cards were handed out in the opening 45 by referee Jair Marrufo. Wet conditions inhibited play a bit as both teams fought hard to control the midfield as the game remained scoreless at halftime.
The tempo picked up in the second half. Roger Levesque, who had subbed in for an injured Brad Evans, led Seattle’s charge as the Sounders threatened inside the first minute of the second stanza.
In the 52nd minute, Levesque triggered the play that led to the opening goal, lofting the ball forward to Fredy Montero. The Colombian outleaped two Portland Timbers to flick the ball on to Fernández, who had time to settle before lashing a left-footed shot inside Troy Perkins’ near post.
Seattle threatened to double the lead, but Portland regained their footing and pulled level four minutes later, after Kalif Alhassan and Jorge Perlaza combined to help the Timbers find the tying goal from a tried and true formula.
In an almost instant replay of the Timbers’ goal to beat Philadelphia, Jack Jewsbury lofted a free kick to Danso. The Gambian center back beat Keller to the ball to nod it into the net.
Eight of Portland’s 12 goals this season have come from set pieces.
Leveque’s cross in the 77th minute led to a scramble, but Portland’s defense held firm. In the 79th, Seattle were able to thwart another set piece from Jewsbury. Portland brought on Ryan Pore, the leading scorer in USSF D-2 last season, to try to steal three points.
Jewsbury attempted another shot in the 87th minute, but did not force a save from Keller. In the end, the teams had to settle for the draw.
Seattle next stay home, hosting struggling Sporting Kansas City on May 21. Portland will return home to JELD-WEN Field to take on Columbus that same day.
SEA -- Alvaro Fernandez 3 (Fredy Montero 3, Roger Levesque 1) 52
POR -- Mamadou Danso 2 (Jack Jewsbury 4) 65
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Jeremy Hall, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo 61), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan, Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Ryan Pore 84).
Substitutes Not Used: David Horst, James Marcelin, Adam Moffat, Steve Purdy, Jake Gleeson.
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Brad Evans (Roger Levesque 42), Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez, Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua (Lamar Neagle 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Fucito, Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Terry Boss.
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Fabio Tovar; Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Weather: Rain and 55 degrees