Although soccer in the United States has been around for years, it took until the last decade for the league to gain more fans. Portland is one of the states that has a team they can be proud of – the Portland Timbers, which has been gaining momentum for a while. The latest victory comes from a clash with arch-rival Seattles, who won 3-0.
On Saturday, the Timbers defeated the Seattle Sounders at Lumen Field with a huge lead as the Sounders lost one man in the field, allowing the Timbers to take control of the match and rub the salt on the wound with two goals in the dying minutes of the second half.
The victory allowed the Portland Timbers to exit the game with 26 points, after having won six, drawn eight and lost six. The record puts them tied with the eighth-placed Seattle Sounders, who have eight wins, two draws and eight losses.
“Always difficult to come and play Seattle and to play here in this city,” said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarse. “This clasico, derby, this rivalry, it’s one of the best.”
“Being part of this game today is a privilege. Extremely proud of the performance of the guys. I thought we managed many things well. Definitely we can continue to improve in some areas, but I thought we did things with a lot of maturity and we stuck with the plan.”
From the whistle, the derby brought the expected physicality into rivalry matches, with Eryk Williamson taking Portland’s first yellow card in six minutes.
Sebastian Blanco came close to scoring in the 9th minute, but his shot was easily saved. Seattle responded with a wave of chances, with Jackson Ragen’s biggest chance coming off the line with a header rejected by Claudio Bravo.
Portland mounted a counter attack that led to the goal in the 24th minute when Blanco headed a Jaroslaw Niezgoda cross to give them the lead.
The Timbers heaved a sigh of relief when a video assistant referee denied a potential penalty after Josecarlos Van Rankin committed a foul in the penalty area. Before half-time, Ragen received his first yellow card for the Sounders. The decision ultimately played his part as he earned a second yellow card less than a minute into the second half, prompting the referee to draw a red card and send him off the pitch.
The Timbers took advantage of the numbers game and created opportunities, but failed to convert them. However, Seattle refused to back off into a corner and gave the throttle to start forward with quality racing.
Savarse brought Marvin Loria and Dairon Asprilla to overtake Yimmi Chara and Blanco to protect their lead. The Timbers managed to break down the Sounders when a VAR call for a handball earned them a penalty which Santiago Moreno converted in the 82nd minute, doubling the lead.
Three minutes later, Portland showed no signs of slowing down as the Timbers resumed their march for a counterattack that resulted in an easy goal for Asprilla and ended the game.
“It feels great,” said Chara during a post-match interview. “We know how important this game is for the city, the fans, the club, for us as players. We came today here and made the effort we could in the game and scored the goals we scored. I think it feels great tonight.”
The Portland Timbers return to Providence Park on July 17 to face the Vancouver Whitecaps for their next match.