Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders Rivalry Produces Game of the Year Candidate

By Douglas Smith
Clint Dempsey Sounders Timbers USMNT
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Cascadia rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders has enough fuel on it to sustain a fire for years, but today’s 4-4 draw may end up being the match of the year in MLS. It was the first matchup between the two to tally as many as eight goals in a rivalry that predates each team joining MLS. It was USMNT captain Clint Dempsey who rescued Seattle with two goals in the final five minutes in a game that featured everything you can imagine and will be talked about for a long time.

The scoring opened in just the third minute when former Timber Kenny Cooper found the net after a corner assist from Jalil Anibaba. Two more goals would be tallied before the 15th minute, but this time it was Portland. Diego Chara scored the first of his two goals in the ninth minute. Diego Valeri put Portland on top from close range with a whirling, near corner shot over keeper Stefan Frei.

Dempsey started his account in the 24th minute to allow Seattle to head to halftime tied with Portland. The goal came as Seattle made quick work of a Portland turnover. Cooper was the beneficiary of a bad clearance and found Osvaldo Alonso who headed it to Obafemi Martins. The latter found Dempsey in space and he finished calmly. The fireworks were just beginning in the rivalry as the fouls began to pile up before the first-half whistle.

When Portland scored, they were able to find space or just given space by a confused Seattle midfield and defense. Darlington Nagbe was able to find the pockets were he wanted to be and created plenty of chances for his teammates. He provided a challenge for DeAndre Yedlin all day. It was the confused defending that would allow Chara to wire his second goal from distance as Anibaba just let Chara run at him. The quality finish gave Chara his brace despite him only finding the net twice in his previous 91 matches. The goal came after Seattle had three-consecutive shots blocked inside the area. One was actually blocked by Martins, who had no idea he was in the way.

Portland looked to have the match in hand just two minutes later as Maximiliano Urruti scored a beautiful curler after benefiting from a poor Seattle turnover. The Timbers were a hair away from scoring their fifth a couple minutes later, but a header that got past Frei was saved off the line by Yedlin’s head. He had no idea it was coming and just found himself in the right place.

The match settled a bit for the next 12 minutes, but then Seattle started buzzing after blocking three-straight Timbers’ attempts. Dempsey found Martins on a beautiful chip pass over several defenders, but Martins hit the header high. Dempsey would manage five shot attempts in the last 10 minutes of regulation and four minutes of extra time, excluding the penalty attempt. It was Lamar Nagle‘s infusion into the match that fueled the comeback. Dempsey scored his second and tried to get the ball back in a hurry, but keeper Andrew Weber threw it onto the top of the netting.

It was Yedlin that drew the penalty that led to Dempsey’s third goal. Yedlin beat substitute Ben Zemanski to the ball on a clear penalty call. Seattle had the better of the chances in stoppage time to take the lead. The draw now gives Portland only three points after five matches.

This match featured seven yellow cards and a combined 14 shots on target. Weber, Cooper and Steve Zakuani became the first players to appear on both sides of the rivalry. Seattle completed three more passes than Portland and may have taken the steam out of the Timbers. The action was hard to keep up with and will be one of the most exciting this weekend in any league. It may only have been Week 5, but this one was an instant classic.

Douglas Smith is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DFresh39, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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