Schmetzer hails his Seattle players' "monster performances" in rivalry win

PORTLAND, Ore. – Going into their Cascadia Cup derby with the Portland Timbers on Sunday, the Seattle Sounders hadn’t won in the hostile confines of Providence Park since August 24, 2014.

That streak is now officially history following the Sounders’ 1-0 victory in Sunday’s match, decided by an own goal in the 76th minute. 

It couldn’t have come in more polar opposite fashion than Seattle’s 5-0 thrashing of the LA Galaxy last weekend, as Portland were on the front foot for long stretches of the contest and outshot Seattle 22-6. But in the end, defender Kim Kee-Hee’s charging run into the box and cross that deflected off Portland’s Julio Cascante and into the net allowed the Sounders to bag their seventh straight victory and first in three tries against the Timbers in 2018. 

“It shows the determination, the fight, the ability to win games in different fashions,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game. “I thought you had some monster performances in that locker room. 

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“We’re trying to collect points. I don’t care how we do it. Give Portland credit, they came out and they were on top of us, they were at home, it’s a derby match, but at the end of the day we walked out of here with three points and a little bit of satisfaction for what they did to us [earlier this season].”

Aside from the rivalry implications, the victory also vaulted the Sounders over Portland in the Western Conference standings, moving their record to 11-9-5 with 38 points on the season. Seattle are now tied with the LA Galaxy for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

“It’s really, really nice to find ourselves above the line now,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “That’s a nice feeling and something we should take pride in after how much hard work we’ve put in. But by no means is the job done, we have to keep going and pushing and keep the streak going.”

“This is the sweetest ‘Jingle Bells’, for sure,” he added, referencing Seattle’s tradition of singing an altered version of the famous Christmas carol after road victories.

As the Sounders look ahead to another tough Western Conference matchup against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field next Saturday, Frei said the mentality for Seattle is focused on figuring out how to keep the positive vibes going.

The seven straight victories are a club record, continuing Seattle’s third straight year of following up a dreadful start to the season with a hot streak to put them back in the playoff mix. 

“We’ve been on streaks before,” Frei said. “It’s about getting out of the [bad] streaks quickly and prolonging the good ones for as long as you can and making the most of them. We’ve found a way to prolong this streak. But, you know, it doesn’t get easier. You gain confidence, yes, but it gets more and more difficult. Today was a tough game but next week [against SKC] will be a tough game as well.”