SEATTLE – There’s something about enormous crowds and high emotions that seem to bring out the best in the Seattle Sounders.
Playing in front of 66,452 fans – the second-largest standalone crowd in MLS history – and facing their biggest rivals, the Sounders turned in one of their better performances of the season. Behind goals from Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson, as well as an own-goal, Seattle Sounders beat the Portland Timbers 3-0 and made sure their fans wouldn’t have to hand over the Cascadia Cup on their own turf.
"In my imagination of heaven, this is it: packed house, beating Portland by three, fans going crazy, it can’t get better than that,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said during an uncharacteristically emotional postgame press conference.
Before the game, the Emerald City Supporters unveiled a tifo that bore Schmid’s likeness holding a royal flush. That tribute was particularly touching to Schmid.
“I was really proud of that,” he said, fighting back tears. “This has been the best thing that has happened to me in soccer and I’m thankful every day I’m here.”
The Sounders clearly fed off those kind of emotions.
Although the Sounders had the better of the play early on, it wasn’t until the 25th minute that the they took advantage. Osvaldo Alonso put in a beautiful through ball that Christian Tiffert dummied, allowing it to roll on to a streaking Adam Johansson.
The Swedish international then headed for goal and sent in a cross to the middle of the box toward Montero. Timbers defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso got their first, but put it past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for an own-goal.
The Sounders picked up the pressure from there and all but put the game away when Brad Evans found an wide open Eddie Johnson at the top of the penalty area. Johnson first-timed it past Ricketts for his team-leading 14th goal.
Montero closed out the scoring in the 62nd minute, winning a scramble in front of the goal after his initial shot was saved. It was his fourth career goal against the Timbers and his eighth career tally against Cascadia opponents.
"I think we played cool, collected, and calm,” Evans said. “We connected our passes and played simple when we needed to play simple. The most important thing was that we finished our chances."
Although the Sounders still don’t control their Cascadia Cup destiny – the Timbers can claim it by beating Vancouver on Oct. 21 – they clearly felt the bigger goal had been accomplished. For the third time this year, they put together a masterful performance with a huge crowd on hand.
"Today wasn't the game that we had to play pretty, but it was the game that our character and our desire would win the game,” Sounders captain Mauro Rosales said. “Today, we gave everything we had, and we were able to score three goals. The people are happy, and that is the best feeling that a player can have."
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.