SEATTLE, Wash. — He’s back.
In his first match with the Seattle Sounders since arriving back from the 2014 World Cup, Clint Dempsey scored a wild goal in the 74th minute, which proved to be the game-winner in the Seattle Sounders’ 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers in front of 64,207 fans at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Marco Pappa added an insurance in the 87th minute as Seattle controlled the game throughout against their Cascadia Cup foes.
The heated nature of the Cascadia Cup rivalry was apparent from the outset as things got testy twice in the opening half, with two separate shoving matches breaking out between the two sides. However, neither team was able to notch a goal before the break, leaving the contest at 0-0 after the first 45 minutes.
Each team seemed to come out with a sense of purpose following halftime, accumulating several good-looking opportunities. The first for Seattle came just after the second-half kickoff when midfielder Gonzalo Pineda had a chance to blast a header into the Portland net off a cross from Jalil Anibaba. But Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a diving save to deny Pineda and the Sounders of the lead.
Just moments later Portland’s Steve Zakuani cut into the center of the pitch and got the ball on his right foot before ringing a 22-yard shot directly at Seattle’s Stefan Frei.
The even nature of the game changed when Seattle forward Obafemi Martins made his return following an injury layoff, coming on for Chad Barrett in the 51st minute. Martins made an early impact, almost knocking in a goal soon after entering the game off a cross from DeAndre Yedlin, but his real value came in connecting attacking passes and opening lanes for the rest of the Seattle attack as Portland struggled to close down space.
The Sounders finally broke through in the 74th minute, following a wild sequence off a restart. Dempsey’s initial attempt was blocked by Ricketts and bounced to Martins, who was denied by Ricketts again. But the subsequent deflection landed directly in front of Dempsey and the Seattle captain didn’t miss, blasting a short-range attempt into the top right corner to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.
Pappa notched in the dagger in the 87th minute, knocking his shot past the displaced Ricketts off a feed from Lamar Neagle, putting the Sounders up 2-0 and effectively sealing the Timbers’ fate.
The conference-leading Sounders improve to 12-4-3, while the Timbers fall to 4-6-9
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Chad Marshall||Absolutely owned Fanendo Adi after the first 15 minutes, both on the ground and in the air. Marshall's been a rock all year, and this was his best game.|
|2||Marco Pappa||Earned that goal, reading Ricketts' overcommit and taking the extra touch. His link-up play throughout was excellent as well, and he's playing at a good tempo.|
|3||Obafemi Martins||Did what a DP striker is supposed to do in terms of occupying the defense and opening up the field of play. When he's in, Seattle's attack is unstoppable.|