The Portland Timbers’ extra-time goal capped a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders, the team’s second loss in a week to its bitter rivals.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Rodney Wallace applied the coup de grace in the 91st minute of a match that’d been all but over for more than a quarter of an hour.

Seattle trailed by two goals, 3-1, a gap that rarely looked like it was going to be bridged. Then Gaston Fernandez picked Micheal Azira’s pocket and saw Wallace slashing up the soft underbelly in the center of Seattle’s 4-4-2 formation.

Wallace scored with his second touch and sprinted toward the corner flag. He dragged one finger across his neck then mimicked a sawing motion with his left hand.

A few minutes later, the final whistle blew, confirming Portland’s 4-1 win on a sultry Sunday afternoon at Providence Park, the Timbers’ largest over Seattle in a major-league game since July 1977.

The defeat was Seattle’s fourth consecutive loss in all competitions, its third straight in Major League Soccer action and second in a week to its bitter rivals.

“Today, it was about gutting the fish,” Wallace said of his goal celebration, referencing an inside joke among Timbers fans that refer to their rivals as the Flounders, “a little something for the fans.”

This is not a rivalry for the meek.

Seattle’s 4-2 victory in Portland last August tripped up the Timbers’ late surge in the standings just enough to ensure they missed the playoffs by a single point. On Sunday afternoon, Portland returned the favor with a swift kick to its currently supine northern neighbors.

Portland (8-6-4), which has now climbed within two points of Seattle (9-7-2) in the Western Conference standings, dominated the first half.

Darlington Nagbe opened the scoring with a brilliant line drive from outside Seattle’s box in the 12th minute, and the Timbers outshot the Sounders 11-3 in the first half en route to a 23-6 edge for the game. Yet the teams entered the locker room tied at 1, thanks to Lamar Neagle’s volleyed finish of Tyrone Mears’ wicked curveball of a free kick in the 38th minute.

The second goal Nagbe created wasn’t even his, but it was arguably even more important than his spectacular opener. Entering the final 20 minutes, the game was precariously balanced, Seattle’s counter looking just as likely to bust the match open as Portland’s patient builds. Then Nagbe burst up the middle in the 74th minute, drawing the Seattle defense to himself before dishing to Fanendo Adi for the finish.

“He’s a special player,” Wallace said of Nagbe, “a consistent player. He always seems to be on.”

Related video: The synchronicity of Sounders supporters

With choreographed songs and chants, Sounders supporters sing and march their brand of organized chaos into CenturyLink Field. Read more. (Lauren Frohne and Corinne Chin / The Seattle Times)

The cheers had yet to die down from Adi’s go-ahead goal when the hulking center forward again strode confidently through Seattle’s midfield. He hammered a shot past a helpless Stefan Frei to make it 3-1 and cranked the crowd noise up another notch.

“I’m extremely disappointed in our reaction,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “Our reaction there was very poor. … When we take the goal, we sort of put our heads down. That’s the thing that I’m really upset with my team.

“In this particularly case, we didn’t have the character and allowed ourselves to be deflated — 3-1 shouldn’t have happened.”

That’s a tidy metaphor for the way Seattle has reacted to the loss of forwards Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey to injury and suspension, respectively, in the wake of the Open Cup loss to Portland.

Yes, few teams in MLS are going to thrive without three designated players — midfielder Osvaldo Alonso also missed Sunday’s match with a nagging hamstring problem — “but I don’t think any of these players want to use that as an excuse,” Neagle said, and this current losing skid has no easy end in sight.

Up next is league-best D.C. on Friday at CenturyLink, where Seattle will attempt to avoid its first four-match MLS losing streak since the stretch run of the 2013 season.

That late-season collapse — still essentially a curse word in Sounders camp — came to a head on this very field, when Portland ran them out of the MLS Cup playoffs.

This series is ruthless, and it rarely lacks for a dramatic flourish. This rivalry drives in the knife, to remind you of its sting.

Cascadia Cup standings
There are nine regular-season matches between the three Northwest clubs this season, with four to go.
Team Games W-L-T Pts
Sounders 3 2-1-0 6
Portland 4 1-2-1 4
Vancouver 3 1-1-1 4