The MLS playoffs have finally brought us a brilliant meeting between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers to renew their rather feisty Cascadian rivalry. Both sides knew that they had to win this game, but only one team ended up being victorious.
The Sounders played in their adapted 4-4-2 diamond formation (or 4-1-2-1-2 if you will) and it did help them push the ball up the field to win many corners after a countless number of attacks. However, they were unable to find any clear, isolated opportunities between their players and the goalkeeper. Therefore, they were unable to score more than once against a defensive-minded Timbers side that managed to stay focused throughout the 90-plus minutes.
Speaking of those Timbers, they played in a traditional 4-2-3-1 formation, and this one is all about hitting from the counter or swiftly creating in the final third to almost rush a shot on goal. These guys defended, played the ball out of the back to the midfielders, and managed to find Ryan Johnson one way or another. In fact, the man could have made it 3-0 right before he stepped off the field to be replaced by Jose Adolfo Valencia.
The home side simply struggled to find many openings, so their second best shot arrived in the second half when Clint Dempsey rocked a volley from roughly 15 yards out, which whistled just wide of the post. That would have cut the deficit down to one with plenty of minutes to go.
Regardless, the Timbers one upped their biggest rivals in this league on the road. Now, they simply have to finish the job at home on Thursday night to fight for a place in the Western Conference finals. With the score being 2-1, this series is still wide open.