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Second-half blitz pushes Sounders past Timbers


Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography


SEATTLE — Unfortunately for the Portland Timbers, the Seattle Sounders are just about unbeatable when they open up their entire stadium.

In the 86th installment of a rivalry spanning five decades and six leagues, Seattle received second-half goals from Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa on Sunday night, earning a 2-0 win over the Timbers in front of 64,207 at CenturyLink Field.

With the victory, the Sounders are now 10-0-3 when drawing at least 40,000 fans.

“Our crowd is fantastic,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. “We enjoy playing here. I think the crowd pushes them on, they don’t want to disappoint those people. As an athlete you just rise above yourself a little bit.”

After a sluggish start for both teams, Seattle peppered Portland’s goal throughout the second half, finally breaking through with less than 20 minutes to play.

With the match scoreless in the 71st minute, Dempsey got on the end of a one-hopping long distance attempt from Gonzalo Pineda and managed to slap a shot past Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts even while falling to the ground.

Only moments earlier Ricketts delivered a pair of stunning stops, first denying Dempsey with a foot save before somehow stuffing Obafemi Martins point blank at the opposite post.

Scoring in his return from World Cup duty, Dempsey now leads the Sounders with nine goals in just 10 appearances. Pineda—an unheralded acquisition signed just days before the start of the season—is tied for the team lead with six assists.

Pappa added the insurance goal in the 86th minute. The 26-year-old Guatemalan found himself in acres of space as he stepped into a Lamar Neagle cross toward the penalty spot and easily beat Ricketts for the 2-0 lead.

Will Johnson launched a free kick from a dangerous spot in the 84th minute, but sent a shot over the wall and directly to goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Dempsey nearly added a third goal in the waning moments of regulation, volleying a Michael Azira cross off the frame.

For a much hyped and nationally-televised match, the opening 45 minutes were a surprisingly cagey, even tepid affair. The two teams combined for just two corners and one shot on target in the entire first half.

That all changed quickly after halftime, as Seattle pushed its fullbacks forward and played more directly. Schmid also inserted Martins into the game for Chad Barrett in the 51st minute.

“One of the thought processes for me,” said Schmid, “was wanting to get (Martins) onto the field earlier than I normally sub, because when (Martins) is on the field he and Clint have such a good understanding together.”

Seattle proceeded to outshoot the Timbers 18-5 in the second half alone, forcing Ricketts into eight saves.

“I thought (Martins) changed the game,” said Johnson. “It really gave us a lot of problems when he and Dempsey went up top. It was a tough matchup, so we did our best to contain them, but eventually they broke us down.”

Seattle also knocked the Timbers out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in an overtime match on Wednesday.┬áTimbers head coach Caleb Porter at least partially blamed fatigue from that match for his team’s second-half struggles.

“I think our back line just looked like they were tired,” Porter said, “and you can’t be tired running against Dempsey and Martins. And Dempsey proved why he’s one of the best players in our country and scored a couple of goals in the World Cup.”

Neither Dempsey nor Martins played in the Open Cup match, although eight other Seattle starters did.

With the victory, the Sounders (12-4-2, 38 points) moved seven points ahead of D.C. United in the early race for the Supporters’ Shield. Seattle has also won three of its last four matches.

Schmid, for one, said he isn’t paying attention to the standings yet.

“I don’t even look,” he said. “I just look at our own points and I’m happy to see us continue to get points.”

The Timbers (4-6-9, 21 points) have now gone four matches without a win. Expected by many to contend for both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, Portland currently sits outside the playoff picture entering the second half of the season.

“We’ve seen the table,” Porter said, “and it’s a bit like Pulp Fiction—everybody is killing everybody—so I’m not sure what the line is going to be with regards to the points that get you in. You can’t worry about that. You just have to focus on every game trying to get three points, and if you don’t, try and get the next one.”

Looking forward, Portland hosts the Colorado Rapids (7-5-6, 26 points) on Friday. The Sounders host Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League in a friendly on Sunday before the Los Angeles Galaxy (6-3-6, 24 points) visit on July 28.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Silly grass fetish trolls.. Always dumping on Seattle although there is artificial turf in New England, Vancouver, and Portland..


      • Actually Porter is trying to do too much. Trying anything that fits. Kind of like Seattle at the end of last season. At least he is sticking to his game plans, but it’s a new adjustment each match. Better to slump mid-season than at the end.

  2. What would it cost annually for Seattle to have a well-maintained grass pitch? Or even a hybrid pitch like Wembley has? Is that not feasible at all?

    I ask this because it makes a big difference in how the game looks on TV in addition to the obvious changes in the play itself. Last night’s game looked great in so many ways. The crowd was great. Some very solid attacking play. Very good presentation by ESPN. But the field looks pretty hideous. It’s not unique to soccer; the same thing happens when the Saints or Falcons or Seahawks play.

    • I think they’d have to go build a brand new stadium (and it most certainly wouldn’t be big enough to hold 64k nor would it have all of the amenities of their current stadium). To have natural grass it needs to be soccer only. Sharing with an NFL team (and a college football game or two a year) in a very wet climate is going to mean a muddy field right down the middle.

      That is part of why Portland also has the fake stuff (they share with Portland State University and local high schools). Portland also has a roof and limited sunlight so would need growlights, has a field level which is 2 stories below ground and sits on a creekbed running through a pipe directly under the field and historically has historically seen huge floods. Providence Park used to grass back before the fake stuff could be had (20s through 60s) and it was basically sod that was changed out every few weeks because it would die due to lack of light or get totally torn up by a college or high school football game.

      I think every soccer fan would love to see real grass in both of these stadiums, but realistically both would have to invest hundreds of millions in a new stadium or some sort of really expensive creative solution and both of those are a no-go for any taxpayer money.

    • Problem with grass is (from what we are told), it would take most of a year to actually do right. So that means 3 teams then have to play at UW for most of a year. That isn’t ideal. Then you have the eventual sunlight issues, football tearing it up every week, etc. We would need our own stadium and that wont happen anytime soon. Things are run well here and the team is happy with the stadium. Are they happy with the turf? Probably not. I think it has been said a few times they would like to replace it, but it isn’t fully up to them

      • Most of a year? I just find that highly suspect. Is Desso Grassmaster, the hybrid used by Lambeau, Wembley, Chelsea, and many others unworkable?

  3. Would love to see the Spurs game. I am sure Clint will have a bigger chip than usual on his shoulder. Saw Chelsea at Seattle a couple of summers ago and was amazed at the whole event. That game converted my wife from soccer mom to soccer fan.

  4. I see the skill set with Nagbe and the natural abilities but something else is missing. He has way too little production for all the hype he gets. He doesn’t score or assist enough to be considered by a mid to upper tier European club. Everyones clamoring for his inclusion into the USMNT and it’s exciting to think of the speed he would bring but let’s be real is he probably won’t improve the US by much if at all.

    Maybe Porter has him all wrong but he’s as skillful and faster than Dempsey but yet Dempsey produces in MLS. And this was supposed to be Nagbe’s big year (second under Porter etc).

      • He should stop laying off to Johnson.
        Will needs to spend a couple games on the bench and regain his form .

    • This year has unfortunately been stunting for Nabge. He has always had the tendency to pull the ball back but for whatever reason (CDMs forced to hold back and not ever make runs due to Portland’s terrible center backs, Will Johnson’s very down season compared to last year, Valeri being hurt all winter and taking until May to really get into form, Wallace being out and his replacement (Zakuani) is a ball hog, new forwards – all with tremendously different skill sets) he has looked just less confident than ever out there this season.

      He gets fouled more than any MLS player (because the defenders are usually chasing him when he makes a quick move by them). That takes a bit of a toll, but interestingly he is content to get fouled in the midfield all day long and not run at the central defenders with the same abandon.

      I think he does have the skill set, just not the players around him to take the pressure off like he did in 2013. Portland desperately needs to find some level of lineup consistency and with some time, hopefully Nagbe gets his mojo back.

      • I also don’t see what Porter likes in Zakuani. He just runs head down into defense or until he’s out of space. It’s why Porter didn’t play Zizzo after his injury, but Zak gets the start? Zakuani rarely turns the corner. I would rather see Urruti provide winger pace and drift in as a #9 behind striker/Adi.
        While were on rants, would prefer to see Gata take CM from Johnson and sit behind the striker . Let him link, and Valeri and Nagbe manage possession.
        Finally, there has been too much emphasis on targeting Adi. The offense was more effective in generating opportunities than this strategy of chipping it into him. Maybe a 442?

        These pieces on for Timbers but I think the CM spot needs a refresh. Not maintaining possession is killing that soft backline.

      • I wonder how Juergen sees him? This maybe too simple but nagbe isn’t even an all star in mls (not a first IX at least) so why would he play for the US?

        But what about brooks, green and Yedlin in the WC? Jk gave them a chance and they produced with two goals and solid play from the three. Maybe jk gives nagbe a chance even though he’s actually done little to deserve it.

      • Thanks Clint. When nagbe is creative is when he produces but Dempsey is so clever with his passing now and there’s no concern to experiment and fail because all the little back heels and dummies make him too hard to defend. Sorry Portland but rashuan Mackenzie isn’t good enough than again neither is kah or paporato or danso etc.

  5. If Seattle intends to sell Yedlin they may want to do it sooner than later. The more games he plays that shows his lack of positioning may drop his stock significantly. Before everyone freaks out – Yes, he’s got raw talent with exceptional pace but currently as a right back he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. Interested parties will soon realize that – Yes he’s a good investment, but maybe not at the $5-$6m evaluation he initially was receiving.
    Excited to see his development over the next few years.

    • Honestly he is worth more than the $5-$6M based on his raw skill, experience on first team level, and age. The World cup demonstrated he can defend world class level players and he can take on and be difficult for world class level defenders to handle. That is something that you either have or you don’t and Yedlin has it. Every other issue, knowing when to attack and when not to, positioning, and how to read a game, ect is a product of more experience and coaching. It is also almost universally accepted Defenders don’t reach their peak until ages 25-27 (Yedlin is 21).

      If Yedlin was the exact same player but was from Argentina or Brazil he’d be valued at $10-$15 Million easily. Why isn’t he given that value now? Simpl put because he is an american and any club/manager will take a huge backlash if a young american prospect doesn’t work out as a opposed to if a young Brazilian or Argentinian doesn’t work out.

      • I agree. The $10-$15m maybe a stretch, but I agree Seattle should get atleast $5-$6m for him. What we think he’s worth and what suitors are willing to pay maybe quite different. If by chance they see him play in another game like New England Revolution game right before WC where he was ripped apart. They may say, yes hes a good investment but we could pay $6m for a young Euro or South American defender who plays in a “tougher” league that has just as much 1st team experience and potential. I just think to get top $$$ for him it needs to happen soon. Personally, if they don’t get $5m+ Seattle should keep him. But getting 75% of transfer fee towards allocation $$$ maybe too hard to pass up.

      • My point is the guy from Euro or South America would cost twice as much at least than Yedlin. I also dispute that Yedlin is the primary cause for Seatle getting exposed when he goes forward. Yedlin gets some blame as you have to pick your spots but Seattle generally is a balls to the walls attacking style team and their other defenders do not do a good job of covering/reacting to Yedlin’s forward runs

      • The guys from Euro or South America play in harder leagues at his age, have gone through a better academy, and have a history of success. We don’t.

        We have to compare ourselves with a kid from Africa or Asia. We’re still a level below the best.

    • What do you mean by lack of positioning? He gets caught out of position after going forward? Or when the defense is set up, he’s not shifting as he should? It seems to me that once back, his positioning is fine. He does get caught forward a few times a game, but I think this is a risk people take with aggressive fullbacks, and any team interested in him knows it. Not that he doesn’t have a lot of room to grow, but even if you watch a prototypical flanking right back, like Dani Alves, at least once a game the defense has to cover for him. It’s not always his fault, it’s a weakness of the system.

      • This. Not to mention besides the actual offense an attacking back gives you it also keeps the opposing midfielder and back more honest and stops them from getting forward which helps slows the other teams attack.

      • Seems to me there is a common insinuation in posts that every time a FB is forward when the attack goes the other way… he is out of position or at fault. Not so. When an attacking FB goes forward as an intended, designed part of the offense, he WILL be up top when the ball turns over. Obviously, it’s a part of the team’s intended, calculated risk… Seattle’s attacking philosophy which also includes other players being aware and covering when the FB does go forward into the attack. Certainly there are times Yedlin gets caught out… when there is no one in position to provide cover and a FB/Yedlin needs to use his head and hang back and can be held responsible for giving up a chance. As well, there are plenty of others when midfielders and CBs are responsible and need to be positionally aware and cover open space. Ultimately though, the accountability comes down to coaching… in game and game to game adjustments and from what I’ve seen, Sigi is pretty happy with the risk/reward in Yedlin’s approach, sees it as in line with his instructions. He certainly hasn’t appeared to have asked him to play more defensively nor sat him down. Yedlin is young and still learning, but I don’t see the now parroted meme of Yedlin being chronically, positionally unaware as altogether accurate.

      • True, all FB’s (and teams) play under a scheme designed by the coach where they know how much they’re supposed to go forward and attack. Some do it often, while others only rarely. Once the game starts though, the risk/reward calculation is up to the player, who has to decide if the situation merits the risk. You can definitely get this wrong, and over-commit at the wrong time, even if the coach is encouraging of strong forward runs.

        I agree entirely though that this notion of Yedlin constantly being out of position absurd, and is from people who see only what they want to see.

      • It went beyond Kenny Cooper and others weren’t providing cover, which of course they often weren’t. This year he’s been getting caught betwixt and between in his one on one defending in MLS. Players were skinning him b/c he was allowing them to take the initiative, have comfort on the ball and dribbling at their preferred speed; some were even beating him on speed moves or cutbacks that a speedy back should eat up all because he was running at them instead of directing them.

        He did a lot better in the World Cup because he’d bomb back and harry them before they established control, or he’d shepherd them out of danger without diving in or playing face up and having all or nothing tackles.

  6. pedantic, but you really mean the 13th installment over 4 years. Even Adrian Hanauer doesnt claim this ias the same sounders team that played in the nasl, or usl, or western alliance, or any of them, and ive never heard Portland make that claim. Its fantasy.

  7. This is the game that I’ve been trying to get my friends to watch to sell them on MLS. I went off on a guy yesterday at a World Cup watch party becuase he was running all the same tired lines about soccer in the US. I told him to watch this game and it’ll lay all your questions of doubt to rest. It did not dissapoint.

    • It’s true there was some beautiful fast pace attacking soccer in this game, especially in the 2nd half that was really exciting to watch. I don’t think MLS has an actual quality issue when it comes to getting fans to watch the game. That is the quality on the field is good enough to create entertaining soccer games where the average viewer can appreciate the skill. MLS’ problem is 1) the perception that it is a 2nd rate league with 2nd rate players (nobody watches CFL or arena football either) and 2) MLS can never match the pageantry/excitement/pressure of the world cup. The casual fans that watch World cup games get engrossed by the pressure and the nidea that every player is playing their guts out into an incredibly pressure packed game that comes along once every 4 years if the player is lucky. A random game against Chivas USA and columbus Oh on a Wednesday night can never come close to matching that

      • Well.. Let’s be honest, one could argue that nothing compares to what the World Cup inspires, not even the champion’s league. This combines that national pride of the Olympics with the passion of the sport. I think the Copa America has the potential to be a game changer–like, rival UEFA in viewership and popularity. So much so that it will be repeated again.

  8. The Sounders are the deepest team in MLS and it really isn’t close… all. Of course, Portland was tired. Play 120 mins against a much different team.

    The Sounders are the best team in MLS too and it really isn’t close ( well by MLS standards, which is extremely competitive ). Last your I felt like Portland, SLC and KC were all on the same page with each other.

    This year Seattle is a page or two ahead.

    • I’d put KC in league with the Sounders, actually, but they are a little overly reliant on Dom “hot hand” Dwyer right now. Wish they had a few more options on the bench.

      • Not watching is not the solution. MLS needs all the watchers it can get. I will agree with Ivan. I can only watch so much of a soccer match being played on fake grass. Don’t care who it is. It is so hard on the eyes.

        I get why they play on fake grass and who pays the bills in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

        Wouldn’t we all agree that real grass offers a better product on the field.

      • I don’t think that grass is always better. I would take a solid artificial surface over the hard/dead/sandy surfaces that occur in Houston during the summer. I would also take them over torn up muddy fields. Pristine grass? Of course that is the best. But a mediocre or poor grass field is even more frustrating to watch because it is more unpredictable.

      • I agree that real grass is undoubtedly better than artificial grass. That being said, you really can’t watch a game because the surface its being played on? Think about that for a minute and tell me how ridiculous you sound. The only way this statement is anywhere near reasonable would be if they were playing at Boise State’s smurf turf. Even then the novelty would count for something.

    • This topic is predictable.
      When you have your stadium of 64,000 in a wet, rainy city,
      you can do what ever you want with it.

      Put some grass in and slow the speed down, and cry about that too.

  9. 64,000+. Again. Nuts. It is really amazing, and a testament to the fans in Seattle and the Pacific NW. They continue to lead the way for this league.

    DeAndre Yedlin– be advised: If you go to Roma (and I think it’s a pretty decent idea), just remember that the “big club” you are joining:

    -Has an average attendance of 40,083 (which is nice, although a smidge lower than the 44,038 average you are used to, and far quieter)

    -Has not won a league title in the last decade, and only 3 in their entire 87 year existence. And not a solitary U.S. Open Cup (let alone 3 in a row!). Don’t even waste your time asking about Cascadia Cups or they’ll break out their “Inter Cities Fairs” Cup from the Medici Era and you’ll have to listen to the whole story

    -Is so impoverished that they occasionally have first-team players poached away by teams in based in Canada (what other non-NHL club on the planet has this problem?)

    -Is the “other” team to have been humiliated 7-1 in a single match during knockout rounds of a major tournament over the past decade (CL vs. Man Unt, 2007)

    -Has not won a European Cup, although they’ve recently overpaid some people who have, and as it happens they play full-back too. (see Cole, Ashley and Maicon, of the aforementioned 7-1 club). But there’s no need to be intimidated by Champions League medals. Just borrow one from Djimi Traore and punch anybody who asks you about it. Especially Djimi Traore.

    -Also shares a stadium, but with a rather boorish and uncomfortable roommate who has not won any Super Bowls at all this year

    -Does not have a marching band

    So those are a few things to think about. And make sure you tell anybody who will listen that Beasley was clearly onside in 2006, and you think McBride forgave De Rossi way too easily. And make sure you explain the concept of a “Homegrown Player” to Totti– he’ll never get it but it’ll be funny. That’s about it. Happy trails and do us proud!

    [Oh calm down – I’m not a Sounders fan and I like Roma plenty]

    • Ali Dia,

      Don’t complement MLS. It isn’t accepted for the most part.

      Anyone, that knows anything, knows you rip on MLS and US soccer in general to make yourself look smarter.

    • Watched the game. It was pretty good.

      Portland has taken a step back from last year, though. Don’t know what the difference is. Not particularly crazy about seeing Nagbe at CM, seems to handcuff him a bit, and his speed was not as rampant as I’m used to seeing. On the plus side, he did show very nice technical skills and he’s getting a ton of touches there…if you’re trying to develop a guy for future USMNT duty, I guess you could do worse.

      Maybe it was just nerves or stage fright in front of 64,000 raucus fans, but that new DP for Portland, Fanendo Adi, looked like Lurch from Addams Family. Huge, tall, but bricks for feet, stumbled around aimlessly like one of the Walking Dead. Was also disappointed to see the form Steve Zakuani is in…had a moment or two, but Porter’s claims that Zakuani is “100% recovered” seem pretty false…especially once Rodney Wallace replaced him, you could see a night-and-day difference in pace. And before his injury, Zakuani was an even pacier guy than Wallace…who, by the way, is coming off major surgery of his own. Kind of a shame because Zakuani was at one point the one guy in the league who could make even an under-30 Landon Donovan look slow.

      Seattle’s just a different animal in terms of class…especially, as you mentioned, once Obafemi Martins hit the pitch. I don’t see anybody in MLS getting any kind of result in Seattle when the Sounders are at full strength.

      • Don’t think it was nerves or stage fright. Nagbe was getting no help. Portland’s 4th and 5th choice center backs (not that 1-3 have shown much better) are not good to start with, let alone on 4 days rest after a 120 minute marathon USOC game. That meant Jewsbury and Johnson had to both sit deep to protect. Portland missed Chara badly, but even with him the central defense is so weak there are frequently only 4 guys going forward (Adi, Nagbe, Zakuani/Wallace and Valeri) usually up the wing and only 1 in the middle to try to receive a cross / service into the box. Stagnant and easy to defend. You saw what happened as soon as they stopped protecting their defense to try to provide support to equalize … easily overrun and easy 2nd goal for Seattle.

        You are correct about Seattle’s class right now … but it is a long season, guys can fall out of form. I wouldn’t let a 2-0 win against a Portland team who hasn’t been able to figure out a complete game all season long and will not make the playoffs this year get you too confident.

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