Goalkeeper Kasey Keller was the hero in the end with two saves in the tiebreaker and Sounders FC made four of its five attempts to prevail 4-3 in penalty kicks, with defender Zach Scott netting the clincher.
PORTLAND — Major League Soccer got a sneak peek of what will likely be its best rivalry next season when the Sounders FC traveled to take on hated Portland on Wednesday night at a jam-packed PGE Park.
A dramatic third-round match in the U.S. Open Cup, won 4-3 by the visitors in a penalty-kick shootout, provided a teasing appetizer of the games to come when the Timbers’ join MLS in 2011.
Seattle, the current holder of the Open Cup trophy, moves on in the tournament to host MLS-leading Los Angeles in a quarterfinal at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“I thought the team showed a lot of heart and desire,” said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid after the three-hour battle.
Most Read Stories
With the score tied 1-1 at halftime, the teams played scoreless the rest of the way en route to a shootout. Goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller was the hero in the end with two saves in the tiebreaker and the Sounders made four of their five attempts to prevail 4-3, with defender Zach Scott netting the clincher.
“A win like this in Portland, against the team our fans want to beat the most, is tremendous,” Keller said.
Coming into the game, Seattle was 0 for 3 in penalty kicks in its two-year franchise history in MLS.
In front of a sellout crowd of 15,422, Portland’s largest of the year, the Sounders opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Sanna Nyassi redirected a wayward cross in front of the goal to Eugene-native Nate Jaqua, who headed in a shot from five yards out.
Jaqua’s score was a welcome sight to Seattle fans eagerly waiting for the 6-foot-3 forward to get healthy following surgery to repair a lower abdominal fascia tear.
The Timbers equalized in the 38th minute through a physically-imposing forward of their own, when 220-pound Bright Dike collected a pass in the Sounders FC penalty box from Ryan Pore and snuck a shot past the diving Keller to the far post.
The scene in the stands mirrored the back-and-forth, impassioned action on the field, as the rival supporters’ group exchanged chants and cheers all night.
Sounders FC — wearing its “electricity” yellow uniforms — unveiled a new-look starting lineup rife with reserves, including defenders Tyson Wahl, Scott and Taylor Graham, who was ejected after receiving a second yellow-card in the 101st minute. Rookie midfielder Michael Seamon and Jaqua, who each made season debuts as substitutes Sunday at Philadelphia, also started.
Schmid alluded to future lineup moves after the game and said, “We’ve got to get a better mix as we move forward, because we haven’t gotten it done with the group we’ve been playing.”
And maybe a thrilling win against and old rival will be just the fix.
“This is another steppingstone to really turning our season around, which is not too late to do,” Scott said.
• Seattle eliminated the Timbers in the same venue and the same round of the Open Cup with a score of 2-1 last year, en route to the championship.
• Portland and Vancouver, longtime Northwest rivals of the Sounders dating to the 1970s and the North American Soccer League (NASL), will join MLS next year. PGE Park will undergo a renovation to facilitate the Timbers’ move and will become a soccer-specific stadium.
• The Timbers beat Seattle 1-0 in a preseason exhibition in March behind a goal by O.J. Obatola, who is no longer with the team.