Without Dempsey, Sounders no match for rival Timbers in 4-2 loss

Aug 28, 2016, 4:36 PM | Updated: 6:12 pm

After the news that Clint Dempsey would be unavailable to make the Sounders’ trip to Portland on Sunday due to a medical evaluation for an irregular heartbeat, Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer opted to start Alvaro “Flaco” Fernandez in his place. The Timbers also changed just one piece from last week’s loss in Seattle, with Fanendo Adi starting over Jack McInerney up top. The results, however, were much different. Despite a valiant second-half comeback, the Sounders allowed four goals and fell 4-2 to their rivals.

With their home fans at full voice, the Timbers came out with a vengeance, nearly capitalizing early on poor defending on Seattle’s left, but Adi eventually poked the ball wide. The fouls also came quickly and often, with both sides getting stuck into tackles from the first minute. Portland had the best chance of the game after Liam Ridgewell latched onto a free-kick, but his shot rolled across the face of goal untouched and out of play. A few chances fizzled out for both teams, until the 16th minute when Portland left-back Vytautas Andriuskevicius went unmarked on a corner kick and headed the ball in to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead. The Sounders hadn’t yet caught their bearings by the time the Timbers came flying in four minutes later. Diego Valeri’s shot was parried by Frei into the path of Adi, who knocked it in goal with ease. Chad Marshall seemed to suffer a bit of a knock after a

The Sounders hadn’t yet caught their bearings by the time the Timbers came flying in four minutes later. Seattle goalie Stefan Frei parried a shot by Diego Valeri into the path of Adi, who knocked the ball in with ease. Chad Marshall seemed to suffer a bit of a knock after a last-ditch tackle and seemed to be struggling on the pitch at times. Either way, the Sounders’ defense was at its worst since Schmetzer took over the team. In the 28th minute, Portland yet again flew into the final third with ease and Diego Chara found Lucas Melano unmarked in the box, poking the ball past Frei to further deflate the visitors. Seattle’s horror show in Portland continued in the 43rd minute, as more defensive errors allowed Steven Taylor to freely head the ball from a corner kick, making it 4-0 at halftime.

In an attempt to get back into the game, the Sounders made two substitutions going into the second half: Herculez Gomez for Fernandez and Roman Torres for Tyrone Mears. This meant that Brad Evans shifted out right. This was Torres’ first appearance for Seattle since last September. Just minutes after the restart, the Sounders pushed up the pitch and found an opening; Andreas Ivanschitz took a curling shot from the top of the box, and it bounced off the head of Timbers’ defender Taylor and into the back of the net, narrowing the score to 4-1. The Sounders seemed boosted by their first goal and charged back on the attack soon after. Lodeiro found Jordan Morris with a great ball over the top, and the rookie forward headed it powerfully past goalie Jake Gleeson and into the top of the net. Both teams had opportunities after the goal but only a couple came to much of anything. More fouls flew for both sides, but most either weren’t called or weren’t in dangerous positions. Torres flexed his defensive muscles well late in the half, especially when he made a last-ditch slide tackle on Adi to deny the Timbers forward a point-blank opportunity.

Man of the match: It’s hard to pinpoint one at this point, as every player for Seattle looked poor at one point or another. Lodeiro and Morris did well to initiate the comeback and Brad Evans looked much better at right-back, which changed the game for the Sounders.

Turning point: Portland’s fourth goal really put the match out of Seattle’s reach, despite their valiant efforts for a comeback.

One reason to worry: A win over Portland would have catapulted the Sounders up the standings and into the playoff spots.

One reason to relax: No one really expected the Sounders to win this one, and a playoff spot is still possible if they finish the season with a strong record.

Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.

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