SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders took round one of this season’s Cascadia Cup battle with the Portland Timbers, riding a 77th minute game-winner from Clint Dempsey to a hard-fought 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field.
The goal, Dempsey’s fourth of the season, was also his fourth straight game with a tally against the Timbers, making him the all-time leading scorer in the rivalry matchup between the squads.
Neither side managed to crack the scoresheet through the opening 45 minutes, although the Sounders did have an early look in the 10th minute after Obafemi Martins managed to find a sliver of space between Portland defenders in the Timbers penalty box. However, he put his attempt just wide of Timbers ‘keeper Adam Kwarasey and the goal.
Seattle had two other opportunities late in the first half, the first coming in the 38th minute from a long-distance rocket attempt off the boot of midfielder Marco Pappa, but his attempt sailed high. Lamar Neagle also put a shot from distance on frame in first-half stoppage time but Kwarasey made a diving save.
The Timbers, meanwhile, didn’t put a shot on target in the first half, struggling to take advantage of the absence of Chad Marshall, Seattle’s All-Star center back who missed the contest due to a one-game suspension.
But Portland picked up the pressure in the second half, managing to put its first two attempts on frame shortly after kickoff. The first came in the 51st minute from Maxmiliano Urruti and the next in the 61st from midfielder Diego Chara. But Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei managed to stifle both attempts with diving saves of his own.
The Sounders finally broke through in the 77th minute after substitute Andy Rose found himself with a free shot in Portland’s box as long throw-in from left back Dylan Remick dropped in behind the Timbers defense. Rose’s attempt was blocked by Kwarasey but the ball squirted free directly in front of the Portland goal, allowing Dempsey to swoop in and tap the ball into the net to give the home side the lead.
Portland had a golden look at an equalizer just moments later in the 81st minute, but Fandendo Adi’s header sailed over Frei’s outstretched fingertips and deflected off the crossbar, allowing Seattle to keep its one-goal advantage. The Timbers couldn’t quite manage to find an equalizer, giving the home side the narrow victory.
Seattle (4-2-1) hit the road next weekend for a date with New York City FC, while the Timbers (2-3-3) head home to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps.