Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers
By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore. — Some rivalry matches fail to live up to the hype. Saturday’s match between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders was not of them.
In a game that saw lead changes, long-distance goals, a hat trick and a brace, numerous shots off the woodwork, and seven yellow cards, the Timbers and Sounders dueled to a 4-4 draw in front of a sold-out Providence Park, with Seattle overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final five minutes.
Clint Dempsey scored a hat trick, including two goals in the final five minutes for Seattle, while Diego Chara’s brace led the way for Portland. Goals were also scored by Portland’s Diego Valeri and Maxi Urruti and Seattle’s Kenny Cooper.
After scoring midway through the first half, Dempsey notched the hat trick by scoring in the 85th and 87th minutes to deliver a stunning finish to a wild match. The hat trick was Dempsey’s first since returning to MLS last season and gives the American International four goals in his three MLS matches this season.
“It always feels good to score goals and it feels a little bit sweeter against your rivals,” Dempsey said.
His 85th-minute goal came when he put home a deflection from the top of the six-yard-box, while the game-tying goal came after substitute Ben Zemanski took down DeAndre Yedlin in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Andrew Weber went the wrong way as Dempsey scored the final goal of a crazy match.The quick goals in succession left Portland questioning their own resolve.
“In these type of games, Portland-Seattle, until the final whistle you have to maintain focus,” Valeri said. “And we didn’t.”
Dempsey, who played midweek for the U.S. National team in Phoenix, was glad to be in the lineup and to continue his positive start to the MLS season.
“You always feel good when you are contributing, scoring goals or getting assists. I’m in a good rhythm at the moment and it’s about continuing that form,” Dempsey, who has four goals and an assist in three league matches in 2014.
While each team will take one point from the match, the Sounders were the ones who left Providence Park upbeat.
“That point today felt like more than a point, it almost kind of felt like a win,” Dempsey said.
Portland, on the other hand, is left without a win after five games this season, three of which were at the friendly confines of Providence Park.
“We’re up 4-2, and although we tied the game, which is a positive, it still feels like we definitely should have came out on top,” Weber said.
Weber’s words echoed that of his coach.
“We got another point, that’s the positive,” Caleb Porter said. “You have to remember that, remind yourself of that, but you can’t be satisfied.”
In the opposing locker room, the talk was about how the late comeback can serve as a building block of things to come.
The birthday boy Chara was the catalyst for Portland as he scored on two long-range shots, one in each half. The Colombian midfielder more known for his tackles than his goalscoring ability, found the back of the net for the first time since the 2011 season.
Chara’s first goal tied things up in the ninth minute, while his 57th minute goal gave Portland the lead. Both of his goals came after he was left room to shoot by the Sounders defense.
Just five minutes after Chara’s first goal, Valeri put the Timbers ahead for the first time in the match, with a nice turn-and-shoot move that ended with the ball flying over the head of a helpless Stefan Frei. It was Valeri’s first goal of the season and sent Providence Park into a fervor after three goals in the opening 15 minutes of the match.
“To play in an atmosphere like this is something you’re going to remember for your whole life,” Weber said.
Chara’s second goal of the match was almost immediately followed by Urruti putting his name on the scoresheet after finding a gap in Seattle’s defense. After a few dribbles towards the net, the Argentine curled a shot from near the top of the penalty area between Chad Marshall and Frei.
“For him to smack two goals from the top-of-the-18, that’s a real positive,” Porter said.
The game’s first goal came just three minutes into the match, when Cooper, who played with the Timbers in 2011, found himself unmarked for an easy tap-in off a Jalil Anibaba shot. Anibaba redirected a Gonzalo Pineda corner kick on the goal.
Porter believed the majority of his team played well, however, it was individual errors that cost his club the match.
“If I’m rating my players, the majority of them are getting an eight or nine. But the problem is there are a couple guys who are a five or six, or less,” Porter said. “That ultimately led to the goals given up.”
Cooper and Weber, who was making the start for the suspended Donovan Ricketts, became the first players to play for both teams in this rivalry match at the MLS level.
“The atmosphere that the fans on both sides create is amazing. And I think people who aren’t fans of either team, I think they get excited about this one and enjoy it,” Cooper said. “I’m sure anyone watching at home was thrilled with the amount of goals that were scored today.”
With eight combined goals, the match was the highest scoring game in the history of the rivalry, which started in 1975 in the NASL. The draw dropped the Timbers to 0-2-3, while the Sounders are now 2-2-1. Portland will once again try to get their first win of the season when they take on Chivas USA at home on Saturday. Seattle, meanwhile, will make the trip to Texas to take on FC Dallas.
Here are the match highlights: