The Timbers scored four goals in the first half and held off a momentary Sounders rally en route to a 4-2 victory on Sunday at Providence Park.
PORTLAND – The Timbers scored four goals in the first half and held off a momentary Sounders rally en route to a 4-2 victory on Sunday at Providence Park.
These are my first impressions:
– That first half was about as bad a frame as the Sounders have played in recent memory.
There wasn’t a whole lot Brad Evans could have done differently on Portland’s opening goal.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Were boos directed at Russell Wilson a sign of things to come in his Seattle return?
- Artie Burns struggled with Steelers, but Seahawks happy with what they've found
- Mitch Haniger is back, Julio Rodriguez getting closer for Mariners
- Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson 'just better' after spending offseason bulking up
- Observations from the UW Huskies' fourth preseason practice
The Sounders captain was in the right spot and timed his jump well – Vytautas Andriuskevicius just got a little bit more lift on his leap and finished with an unstoppable header. Yet rewind the tape a little further, and there was Joevin Jones getting burned by Alvas Powell to set up the corner kick in the first place.
On the second goal, Evans whiffed on a tackle and Chad Marshall was caught ball-watching as Fanendo Adi swooped in to score on the rebound. On the third, Tyrone Mears was jogging when Lucas Melano beat him with a near-post run. On the fourth, Cristian Roldan got caught in a pick to leave Steven Taylor with a wide-open header.
Nearly every defender but Marshall played one of their worst halves of the season – and Marshall was pretty clearly injured for most of the first half after tussling with Adi on the edge of the Sounders box. Mears was so out of sorts that he was benched at halftime for Roman Torres, who made his first appearance since tearing his ACL last September.
The defense wasn’t given much help by the midfield, either, that Portland shredded to ribbons throughout the opening 45 minutes.
– Seattle restored some pride over the final 45 minutes.
The Sounders banished any thought that they’d simply roll over with two goals in the opening six minutes of the second half.
Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Morris both got on the board, the former courtesy of a deflection and the latter with a well-placed header. They forced the home crowd to sit up and take notice, and a nervous energy was palpable within the stadium all the way to the final whistle.
For about 15 minutes of the second half, it really seemed as though the Sounders might have the unlikeliest of rallies in them, that they’d channel the spirit of the 2014 game in which they came from two goals down for a 4-4 draw. But the Timbers were able to slow the tempo and stanch the bleeding, holding onto a huge home win.
– But second-half flurry aside, this was something of a disaster.
The Sounders were forced to play a midweek game in Houston, while the Timbers had a full week to recover from their 3-1 loss at CenturyLink Field last Sunday. Losing Clint Dempsey just two days before match day would have been a downer even if the reason for his absence wasn’t as sobering as his getting evaluated for an irregular heartbeat.
So there were extenuating circumstances.
But all that being said, there’s no excuse for just how dreadful the Sounders looked throughout the first half at Providence Park. After the first couple of goals, they almost looked shell-shocked, eyes vacant and shoulders slumped.
That second-half rally ultimately counted for very little. The damage had been done.
And Seattle now sits four points back of its archrival for the Western Conference’s sixth-and-final playoff berth with eight matches remaining.
This has felt for weeks like a game that could ultimately decide which Cascadian rival will fall short of the postseason, and Seattle was defeated in dramatic fashion.