Seattle finishes match with seven players and injured Obafemi Martins was taken off on a stretcher as the defending champion Sounders lose for the first time ever at Starfire Stadium.
TUKWILA – Late in extra time of a game that had long since descended into chaos, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid walked away from the Sounders bench looking for a quiet place in a stadium full of sound.
The defending champions were on their way out of the U.S. Open Cup. His star striker left the field on a stretcher, and three of his teammates saw red – both in card and otherwise.
“I didn’t want to get thrown out, so I walked away,” Schmid said. “I was maybe going to choke a referee so I walked away before I did something stupid.”
The seven-man Sounders were eliminated in the fourth round of the Open Cup by their bitter rivals, the Portland Timbers, 3-1 after extra time on Tuesday at Starfire Stadium. And it was a mark of how eventful – how absurd – the final 30 of the 120 minutes were that Obafemi Martins’ early exit was almost overshadowed.
Martins’ injury was groin-related, Schmid confirmed afterward, and they’ll know more after an MRI on Wednesday. At first, no one had much of an idea of what, exactly had happened – ominous, later debunked rumors soon surfaced that it was somehow chest-related. Shortly after scoring the tying goal, Martins was shaken up near midfield, though initially, no one seemed all that concerned. Then he sank to the turf, unable to stay standing.
The star forward left the stadium by stretcher, eventually disappearing within the Sounders locker room lying in the back of a golf cart.
The game unraveled in his absence. Brad Evans had already picked up a second yellow card when Wallace scored to put the Timbers up 2-1 midway through the first additional period. And though the Sounders continued to apply pressure, they imploded.
Azira was red-carded for a rough tackle, then Clint Dempsey picked up a second yellow for protesting the call. Portland scored again, and the announcer had to plead with fans not to throw projectiles onto the field.
“Last year, at the end of the game, (Portland coach) Caleb (Porter) said it was the worst refereeing he’d ever seen,” Schmid said. “Well, I think it was topped.
“I thought our guys played like lions. I felt they left their heart out on the field and I think they got robbed.”
The Sounders hadn’t lost to the Timbers since the 2013 Western Conference semifinals, a span of five games that included four wins. Seattle had never lost at Starfire Stadium, not in 20 games that stretched back to 2005 and bridged the minor league and MLS eras.
The first goal, scored by Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri, came just two minutes after halftime. The stadium was even quieter after Rodney Wallace’s winner, a rebound that sent him sprinting toward the visiting bench to celebrate with teammates.
Rarely has the rivalry ever been so visceral.
After Azira was sent off, Dempsey snatched referee Daniel Radford’s notebook off the ground and ripped it up – and the teammates departed together to rousing cheers. Those turned to boos at the final whistle, and the referees left under police escort.
Most immediately, it was to protect them. After hearing from Schmid afterward, maybe it was good they avoided the path toward the home locker room, too.
• In another Open Cup match, Sounders FC 2 was defeated 2-1 by Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah. Sam Garza gave the Sounders a 1-0 lead in first-half stoppage time. Joao Plata evened the match in the 63rd minute and Javier Morales scored the winner in the 71st minute.