Sounders beat Timbers 1-0 and extend win streak to 7 games
By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A seventh straight win was sweet, but for the Seattle Sounders, it was even sweeter because it came against the rival Timbers – on their home field.
An own goal in the 76th minute gave Seattle a 1-0 victory over Cascadia Cup rival Portland on Sunday night, extending the Sounders’ club-record winning streak to seven games.
Seattle also pushed its unbeaten streak to 10 and moved the team into fifth place and playoff contention in the Western Conference. The Sounders (11-9-5) have won five straight on the road.
Seattle had not won in Portland since 2014.
“It’s been a while, yeah,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei as music blared in the Seattle locker room after the game. “It’s a tough place to play, they make it a very hostile environment. They’re always up for it. I think we played well today.”
The Timbers (10-7-7) have lost four straight after a 15-game unbeaten streak, falling to seventh in the West. Portland hasn’t lost four straight since 2012.
“It’s a shame because these are the games you need to win, but soccer is not about deserving, you have to get the job done. And today we didn’t get the job done,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said, “because at the end of the day we allowed them to find a goal in the moment we were probably doing our best, and that’s something you need to grow from.”
It was the third and final meeting between the teams this season. The Timbers won the previous two, but because of the unbalanced schedule, the first meeting (a 1-0 Portland victory) won’t count toward the three-way rivalry with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Cascadia Cup was started in 2004 by the supporters of the three teams. The winner is determined by points at the end of the season, and the Timbers are the defending champs.
The Sounders now sit atop the rivalry table.
“Guys are pretty happy, I’ll say that,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It again showed the determination, the fight, the ability to win games in different fashions. I thought you have some monster performances in that locker room. It’s what we talk about: You try to collect points.”
Portland had the best chances in the first half, but Frei saved a shot from Andy Polo in the 10th minute and another from Sebastian Blanco in the 24th.
The Timbers made 14 shots in the half (compared to Seattle’s two) but couldn’t manage to score. In the end, the Timbers had 22 shots to Seattle’s six.
“They had lots of shots, but not too many made it through (to me),” Frei said, crediting the Sounders’ stout defense. “It’s that do or die defensive mentality, sacrifice yourself and do whatever you can. All of the guys were throwing themselves at the ball and not too many made it through. Frustrating for them, I think, and that’s what we needed to do.”
The two sides tussled a bit in the 64th minute with Blanco and Seattle’s Brad Smith both handed yellow cards.
The Timbers again threatened in the 71st minute, but Samuel Armenteros’ header floated just over the net.
The lone goal came when Timbers defender Julio Cascante tried to clear a cross from Kim Kee-hee but instead it deflected into the net.
“The mindset of the group coming out in the second half was better,” Schmetzer said. “They obviously understood that there were some moments in the first half when we weren’t playing as well as we could, as well as we should have. I think in the second half you saw a determined group.”
Clint Dempsey, last season’s Comeback Player of the Year, missed his fifth straight game because of back problems. Dempsey is one goal shy of Fredy Montero’s career record of 47 goals with Seattle.
The Sounders were also without Victor Rodriguez with a hamstring injury.
Portland defender Larrys Mabiala did not play because of a thigh injury. Liam Ridgewell returned to the starting lineup for the first time since May 19. He had a quad injury and also missed time with the team after the birth of his daughter.
The Sounders were coming off a decisive 5-0 victory over the LA Galaxy. Portland fell 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City.