The Portland Timbers beat Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field for the first time in the regular season as defender Larrys Mabiala played the role of unlikely hero in a wild second half that saw Seattle battle back twice before conceding the winner in a 3-2 goalfest.
Samuel Armenteros also scored for the Timbers, who saw Diego Valeri assist on all three goals in a vintage performance. Valeri's outstanding showing eclipsed that of his South American counterpart, Nicolas Lodeiro, who set up both Sounders goals.
Portland slightly edged a tight first half, as both teams forced the opposition goalkeepers to work. Bryan Meredith – filling in for an injured Stefan Frei in Seattle's goal – reached back to make an impressive stop on Mabiala in the 22nd minutes, while Jeff Attinella had to make a diving save on Cristian Roldan just before the break.
The game sprung to life mere minutes into the second half, with Mabiala getting enough space in the 48th minute to put away Valeri corner kick for his second goal in as many games. The Timbers' lead was short-lived, though, as Victor Rodriguez finished a beautiful in-swinging cross from Lodeiro with a diving header.
The two rivals weren't done there, and Portland quickly re-took the lead through Armenteros, who ran onto a through ball from Valeri, beat his defender and finished low to the far post. Chad Marshall responded in the 68th minute with the second set-piece goal of the game, a header from Lodeiro's corner kick, but Mabiala and the Timbers had the last laugh as the big defender headed in his second of the game from another corner kick.
- 48' – POR – Larrys Mabiala | Watch
- 51' – SEA – Victor Rodriguez | Watch
- 57' – POR – Samuel Armenteros | Watch
- 68' – SEA – Chad Marshall | Watch
- 74' – POR – Larrys Mabiala | Watch
- THE BIG PICTURE: Seattle's season looks increasingly lost, as they are now 11 points adrift of the final Western Conference playoff spot. This is the team that went on remarkable second-half runs in both 2016 and 2017, but now they're in an even worse position than they were at this time each of the last two years. The Timbers, meanwhile are up to fourth in the Western Conference and continue to be one of MLS' hottest teams. Gio Savarese's men are now 10 games unbeaten (7-0-3) and will be happy to have gotten a win without Fanendo Adi, Liam Ridgewell and Sebastian Blanco taking the field.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: In a game largely shaped by set piece goals, Valeri's scrumptious through ball to Armenteros for Portland's second proved to be the extra moment of run-of-play quality that the team needed to take all three points.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Mabiala may have been the unlikely hero, but the likely hero gets the MotM not. Diego Valeri set up all three Portland goals, with his assist Armenteros the pick of the bench.