Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG.Photography
By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE, Wash. – The Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders are still hunting for elusive first wins after a 90th-minute equalizer from late Portland substitute Rodney Wallace Saturday night left the longtime rivals tied at 1-1.
A poorly-marked Wallace got on the end of a floated lob into the box from defender Andrew Baptiste and sent a clean header past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
“Obviously we were 1-0 down and my whole thing was just coming into the game and trying to make a difference, trying to make a play,” said Wallace.
The Timbers trailed 1-0 for most of the night, unable to generate quality looks or combination play despite controlling possession and out-shooting their opponent for the third straight week.
But Wallace’s header in front of the 40,250 in attendance at CenturyLink Field allowed the Timbers (0-1-2) to salvage an important point on the road and left the Sounders (0-1-1) with just a single point from back-to-back season-opening home matches against two of last season’s weakest road teams.
“It wasn’t pretty,” acknowledged Portland head coach Caleb Porter, “but they dug deep, they battled, they fought, never gave up, never quit. In the end, to score that goal, it was fair because they were rewarded for their effort.”
Eddie Johnson opened the scoring in just the 13th minute, tapping in a far-post cross from Steve Zakuani on the counter. An ugly midfield giveaway from Diego Chara left Zakuani with the ball at his feet and a sea of FieldTurf before him.
“I thought the first 20, 25 minutes were good,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. “I thought we stretched them and I thought we created some chances, got our goal, as well. After that, I think we let them into the game a little bit. I think our play was a little bit too slow. Our movement to the ball was too slow.”
For the Sounders, it was also a bittersweet end to a week that saw them bounce Tigres UANL from CONCACAF Champions League and a match that saw them unveil new acquisition Obafemi Martins.
Martins came on in the 70th minute and showed flashes of the quality that led the Sounders to doggedly pursue him for nearly a month despite ample evidence Spanish side Levante UD had no interest in parting with him.
“It’s difficult for him having just flown in and so forth,” said Schmid. “We wanted to give him the opportunity, he wanted the opportunity, as well, because his mind, his spirit, his soul is here, and he wants us to succeed and be successful.”
The atmosphere at CenturyLink Field for a rivalry match certainly didn’t escape Martins’ notice.
“I’m going to say these are some of the best fans. You know, I’ve been playing for a lot of clubs. But it’s different here. They’re friendlier, and they really support the team, which is good. And I like that.”
Here are the match highlights: