After a disappointing week that saw the Timbers concede four times to FC Dallas and thrice to Club América, Portland returned home to Providence Park for a date with their bitter rivals, the Seattle Sounders.
Portland missed chance after chance, including two from the penalty spot, before Seattle put two second-half goals in. Bill Tuiloma’s late free-kick made it close, but not close enough to threaten a result. The match would end 2-1 to the Sounders.
Portland were without regular starting goalkeeper Steve Clark, as well as would-be starters Sebastián Blanco and Jarosław Niezgoda. Forward Jeremy Ebobisse made his return to the starting XI but would be replaced by Felipe Mora after an hour. Playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro was out for the Sounders, though it hadn’t meant much so far this season.
Portland were on the front foot in the first half, but missed a series of chances in the 30th to 42nd minutes—and by a “series” I mean four or five half-chances and three more legitimate ones. The worst miss came from Ebobisse in the 40′, slipping as he fired a left-footed shot wide.
The first major moment of the match came in the 55′ as Ebobisse was brought down by Shane O’Neil in the box for a penalty. Valeri stepped up and had his attempt saved by Frei, but was awarded a second chance after Nouhou encroached and Frei came off his line.
Valeri’s second attempt offered no added joy for Timbers fans. His penalty smacked off the post and while his rebound went in, it would have required Frei touching it to count. Valeri was immediately subbed off for Dairon Asprilla, and the match continued at 0-0.
Ebobisse was also replaced by Felipe Mora in the exchange, and Andy Polo would replace Marvin Loría shortly after.
Portland’s attack struggled mightily without Valeri. His creativity and oversight of attacking combinations usually out Portland in successful positions, but post-60′ the Timbers resorted to getting the ball wide before stalling and losing it.
Few minutes passed before the deadlock was broken. Ruidiaz stumbled over Tuiloma and Attinella on the other end, culminating in a penalty for the Sounders. Ruidiaz took the pen and slid it to Jeff’s right, opening the scoring in the 62′.
Not a minute after the ensuing kickoff, disaster would strike once more for Portland. Attinella went down with a non-contact injury after playing the ball with his left foot and needed to be replaced by 19-year-old Hunter Sulte.
“How many times do you see three goalkeepers going down at the start of the season?” lamented Giovanni Savarese post-match. While he praised Sulte’s performance (one save, 3/5 accurate passes) he also noted that it was an exceptionally tough spot to be put in.
Ruidiaz nearly drew another penalty in the 76′ and Williamson couldn’t get on the end of a cross at the other end. It would be punished in due time.
A Seattle free kick from the right side of Portland’s defense found the head of a barely-onside Fredy Montero, who beat Sulte to give Seattle a 2-0 lead in the 79′.
Halfway through the six minutes of added time, Bill Tuiloma (of all people) blasted a beautiful curling free kick past Stefan Frei. Tuiloma’s fourth goal for the club was his most impressive, but the Timbers couldn’t muster another one. The match ended 2-1 to the visitors in a match that looked like it was Portland’s to lose.
“You don’t get some things in your favor that you’re supposed to get,” said Gio. “Unfortunately, the score doesn’t show what we gave to the game today.”
- Joao Paulo was showing his quality in the middle of the field for Seattle, stopping numerous attacks with well-timed challenges and springing the Sounders forward in the same role Diego Chará has historically played for the Timbers.
- Nouhou Tolo and Diego Chará were locked in a battle during the first half, with Chará getting the better of the always-unpredictable Nouhou early. A caution was issued to Nouhou after taking down Diego as he broke away down the right.
- Portland’s overall passing play was amazing, building up and transitioning well from defense-to-attack. Now the focus shifts back to finishing chances, a la 2019 pre-Brian Fernández.
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As always, RCTID!