Portland was once again comfortable at CenturyLink Field.
The Timbers used a late goal to depart with a 2-1 win against Sounders FC on Sunday night. It’s the third consecutive loss Seattle has suffered at home to its Cascadia rival.
“We should not have lost the game,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said during a video conference call with media. “We end up tying that game. If we can’t score a goal, we should never concede a second. That’s the most frustrating part.”
Portland forward Felipe Mora netted the go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute. Mora worked his way behind Seattle’s defense without being called offside to score on a service by midfielder Eryk Williamson. Sounders keeper Stefan Frei’s tip wasn’t enough to stop the goal.
It’s the second consecutive match the Sounders let a team score late to get a more appealing outcome. Seattle was up 2-1 at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday when Real Salt Lake found an equalizer in the 85th minute.
“Those were not our best defensive moments in this season,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said during a video conference call with media. “That second (Portland) goal was a bit of a dagger, how it all played out. They got the ball in the middle of the field where our guys were a little flat-footed on the entry pass. Credit to the Timbers, but we’ll work on that to make sure we’re a little bit stronger defensively.”
Midfielder Kelvin Leerdam had the necessary reflexes to get the Sounders on the board in the opening half of their Major League Soccer match.
Portland blocked a possible Jordan Morris header and Leerdam was ready just outside the box to send a powerful shot at goal. Timbers keeper Steve Clark couldn’t get a hand on the ball, conceding the equalizer in the 42nd minute.
Leerdam also scored against Portland in the match at Providence Park in August. The Sounders won that meeting 3-0, rocking the Timbers’ confidence just weeks after winning the MLS is Back tournament in Florida.
Portland conceded 10 goals in its previous three matches and coach Gio Savarese rested all of his first-choice starters for a midweek loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy to prepare for Sunday’s rematch with Seattle.
The game didn’t have an ideal start as Portland star Sebastian Blanco left the field on a stretcher with an apparent right-knee injury. Replays showed Blanco wrapping Joao Paulo up in the corner and stretching his body like a starfish to win a ball. Instead, his right leg buckled as Joao Paulo tumbled to the turf.
Blanco, a fourth-year MLS veteran, looked to be crying on the sideline as he was given medical attention. He was replaced in the lineup by Marvin Loria in the fifth minute.
Shortly after the substitution, Portland scored off a give-and-go play between midfielders Diego Valeri and Williamson in the box in the ninth minute. The goal was an MLS first for Williamson.
Both teams made substitutions to put more offensive threats on the field late in the second half. Schmetzer was also motivated by defensive midfielder Jordy Delem knocking heads with teammate Yeimar Gomez Andrade. Delem stayed in the game after the collision but substituted off in the 62nd minute by forward Will Bruin.
“We lost balance,” Roldan said. “Portland is a very good team that plays extremely well in the counterattack and we weren’t as sound defensively, especially in the second half. … We need to clean things up.”
Seattle (4-2-3) had an opportunity to move into first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference standings with a win. Portland (4-3-2) is fourth in the West.
Sunday’s match was played without fans due to state rules regarding crowd sizes to guard against the spread of COVID-19. The Sounders used taped crowd noise and prior to the opening kick, showed a grid of fans watching online.
While always a Cascadia derby, the Sounders will hold onto the Cascadia Cup for another year due to matches not being played before fans. The Cascadia Cup Council made the decision earlier this year. Supporters groups for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Timbers and Sounders started the regional competition in 2004.
MLS also hasn’t scheduled matches between its Canadian and U.S. teams since resuming its season amid the pandemic due to travel restrictions regarding the spread of COVID-19.
Schmetzer made one lineup change from when the club played Portland on Aug. 23 at Providence Park. Delem substituted for defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson, who joined his Swedish national team earlier this month.
Sweden faces Portugal on Tuesday in a UEFA Nations League group-stage match. The tournament’s schedule also means Svensson will miss Seattle’s home game against the San Jose Earthquakes on Thursday.
“It’s a tough loss, but it’s a short turnaround,” said Leerdam during a video conference call with media. “This game is a game we gave away. Especially after we controlled the first half. …We made too many mistakes.”
NOTE: MLS has yet to announce the rescheduled date for Seattle’s match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. The game was postponed Aug. 26 after the sides joined a player-driven strike across professional sports in support of civil unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.