PORTLAND, Oregon – Over the course of the storied histories of soccer in Seattle and Portland, the two teams have met four times in the playoffs. On Thursday, Portland drew even in the all-time postseason clashes when the Timbers topped Sounders FC, 3-2, in the match to win the aggregate-goal Western Conference Semifinals series, 5-3.
The defeat ended an up-and-down season for Sounders FC that was loaded with promise, but riddled with inconsistency, as various factors forced Head Coach Sigi Schmid into consistent lineup shuffling.
Thursday was much of the same as Schmid made three changes from his first-leg lineup, as Shalrie Joseph replaced the suspended Lamar Neagle, Michael Gspurning returned from suspension and Marc Burch replaced the injured Leo Gonzalez.
The Timbers raced to a 3-0 lead, but Seattle stormed back late to keep the series close.
The Timbers had the first opportunity of the night in the third minute when Diego Valeri played it wide for Rodney Wallace all alone on the left side, but he put his shot wide of the open net.
In the 14th minute, Diego Chara got into the box, but Burch cut him off with a sliding challenge, spilling the ball to Gspurning to save a would-be chance.
Portland took the 1-0 lead in the 29th minute on a penalty whistled on Djimi Traore. The Timbers were playing the ball up the right side of the box and it hit Traore’s outstretched arm, drawing the penalty call. Will Johnson converted from the mark and Portland held a 3-1 lead in the aggregate-goal series.
Seattle had chances to pull closer, but a dipping, long-range shot by Eddie Johnson in the 34th minute was tipped over by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and Brad Evans missed just wide on a volley from the top of the box in the 36th minute.
Just before halftime, the Timbers added to their lead through Valeri.
Pressing up the right side, Wallace touched the ball to Valeri at the top of the box and he hammered a shot inside the far post, putting Seattle behind 2-0 in the match and 4-1 in the series.
Bad was made worse just 90 seconds into the second half.
Wallace got the ball on the left side and clipped a cross into the box where Mamadou Danso charged onto it to head it in for a 3-0 lead in the match and 5-1 lead in the series.
Seattle subbed Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales into the match, but still struggled to gain any traction in the attack until the final 16 minutes of the match.
In the 74th minute, Seattle pulled one back on a long throw from Evans. Johnson got his head to the throw to flick it in front of the net and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado had his shot blocked, but the ball spilled across the six-yard box to Yedlin at the far post and he thumped it into the net for the goal, making it 3-1 in the match.
Yedlin then assisted on a goal by Johnson in the 76th minute, crossing from the right side for a Johnson header in the middle of the box, bringing the aggregate-goal score to 5-3.
That was all the comeback Seattle could muster, though, and that is how the season would come to an end.
The Timbers will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship series starting Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium after RSL topped the LA Galaxy in an overtime victory on Thursday.
Sounders FC – DeAndre Yedlin 74; Eddie Johnson (DeAndre Yedlin) 76.
Timbers – Will Johnson (PK) 29; Diego Valeri (Rodney Wallace) 44; Mamadou Danso (Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson) 47.
Sounders FC – Clint Dempsey (caution) 49.
Timbers – Pa Modou Kah (caution) 26; Diego Chara (caution) 53.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Marc Burch, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose 84), Adam Moffat (Mauro Rosales 58), Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Sharlie Joseph (Obafemi Martins 49).
Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury, Mamadou Danso, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 61), Darlington Nagbe (Ben Zemanski 82), Ryan Johnson (Maximiliano Urruti 69), Rodney Wallace.
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