Everything seemed to be going perfectly for the Seattle Sounders this week. They advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, pulling off a dramatic comeback victory over Tigres at midweek. They had a rest on the second weekend of MLS play to accommodate the two legs of play in the continental competition. And they entered their first clash in the tripartite clash for the Cascadia Cup with a new weapon in their arsenal of players, longtime Inter Milan and Newcastle United striker Obafemi Martins, who finalized a contract with the Sounders the day before their showdown with the Portland Timbers.
Eddie Johnson appeared to keep the dream week celebrations moving along for Sounders fans when he connected on Steve Zakuani’s cross from the left side of the pitch to beat Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts in the 13th minute of the match. Johnson was flying all over the pitch, threatening the Portland back line time and again and forcing Ricketts to make several brilliant saves over the next ten minutes. But try as he might, neither he nor any of Seattle’s other attackers could tack on a second goal before halftime.
Still it appeared that the Sounders would walk away with their first victory of the season. Portland was getting up the pitch into the offensive third, but Seattle’s defense was expertly shutting down attacking chances before the Timbers could get shots on goal to threaten goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. Throughout the second half the visitors would have a hard time finding space and finishing their possessions.
A series of substitutions seemed to stifle Seattle’s momentum and shift the impetus toward Portland’s offense. Martins came on for the Sounders at the same time Portland brought in midfielder Rodney Wallace. One would end up scoring a goal that would impact the final result, but it wasn’t the one the pre-match predictions would have led one to believe.
Into stoppage time neither team found the back of the net. But with time ticking away, Portland once again proved deadly in the closing minutes. Center back Andrew Baptiste pushed up the pitch and laid on a ball that Wallace headed past a flat-footed Gspurning from ten yards out for the last-chance equalizer. As Seattle’s defense gawked at the execution by the super-sub, the Timbers ruined Seattle’s second home game of the season in front of more than 40,000 and stole away a precious point in both the Western Conference and Cascadia Cup standings.
PORTLAND TIMBERS @ SEATTLE SOUNDERS
March 16, 2013
- 13′ — SEA/Eddie Johnson (Steve Zakuani)
- 90′ — POR/Rodney Wallace (Andrew Jean-Baptiste)
- SEA (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning; Marc Burch, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin; Steve Zakuani (Alex Caskey/81′), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Mario Roberto Martinez (Obafemi Martins/70′); Samuel Ochoa (Mauro Rosales/61′), Eddie Johnson
- POR (4-3-3): Donovan Ricketts; Michael Harrington, Mikael Silvestre, Andrew Baptiste, Ben Zemanski; Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury (Frederic Piquionne/70′), Diego Chara; Darlington Nagbe (Rodney Wallace/80′), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia/89′), Diego Valeri