SEATTLE – Clint Dempsey made his home debut but Eddie Johnson stole the show, scoring once more against the Portland Timbers to send the Seattle Sounders to victory in front of the second-largest standalone crowd in MLS history.
Johnson's 60th minute header from a Mauro Rosales free kick was his fourth goal in five career games against Portland, providing the winning margin in the Sounders' 1-0 win in front of an announced crowd of 67,385 on Sunday.
It was fitting that Johnson and Rosales connected on the goal, as it was their play that set it up. Rosales, who had just entered the match for Shalrie Joseph, picked up a loose ball in the Sounders' end and pushed it forward to Lamar Neagle. He then found Johnson behind the defense, forcing Pa Modou Kah to commit the foul, for which he was given a yellow card.
Rosales has now picked up a goal or an assist in four of the Sounders' last five games.
The Timbers did have their fair share of chances, though, and got off to a blazing start as Jack Jewsbury nearly put in a header off a third-minute corner kick that forced DeAndre Yedlin to clear off the line.
Ryan Johnson had a good look of his own not long after, taking a through ball from Diego Valeri and racing in for a one-on-one chance in the 16th minute. But his heavy first touch allowed Michael Gspurning to race all the way out to the edge of the penalty area to close down the angle and make a sliding grab to snuff out the chance.
Valeri nearly scored one himself in the 34th minute when his shot from about 20 yards out hit the near post. The rebound came out to Ryan Johnson, but he mishit his header and Gspurning was ultimately able to punch the ball out to safety.
Gspurning didn't have much more to do until a pair of crucial saves in the dying minutes in the dying minutes of the game. He used all of his 6-foot-5 frame to knock away a Darlington Nagbe shot in the 88th minute and then made a diving stop on Andrew Jean-Baptiste's header in stoppage time to preserve the shutout.
The Sounders did have a couple decent chances of their own. Joseph had an open look at a back post header in the sixth minute, but his shot went well wide. Johnson nearly got his second goal of the game on a couple occasions, but Ricketts made diving saves in the 68th minute off a shot from the edge penalty area and on a header just two mintues later.
The Sounders also had a couple penalty shouts. The first came in the 10th minute when Lamar Neagle was bodied off the ball by Kah at the edge of the penalty area. The other came in the 26th minute when Neagle put in a cross that Ricketts spilled, with Dempsey going down under pressure from Jewsbury before Ricketts was able to recover and collect.
The win saw the Sounders move back into the playoff spots with 37 points. They also have the second best points per game figure in the league (1.61). The Timbers remain on 39 points, the fourth-highest total in the Western Conference.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eddie Johnson||Got the goal, took a licking, and kept on ticking. A fine evening out for the Sounders No. 7|
|2||DeAndre Yedlin||Started his night with a crucial goal line clearance and kept going from there, defending soundly and occasionally threatening in more advanced positions|
|3||Diego Valeri||Very unlucky to see his first-half curler come back off the post and pulled the strings in Portland's midfield, as usual|