SEATTLE – When the Sounders walked out on the field before kickoff against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, 66,452 fans packed CenturyLink Field and were in full voice welcoming the teams to the field.
“This,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid told assistant coach Brian Schmetzer, “is what heaven must be like.”
Beyond just the atmosphere, Schmid experienced the soccer version of Shangri-La in his club’s 3-0 win over the rival Timbers while getting goals from both Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero.
“In my imagination of heaven, this is it,” Schmid said. “Packed house, beat Portland by three, fans going crazy. It can’t get better than that.”
The Sounders dominated action from first kick to final whistle and it showed in the 3-0 score. Though Portland had 17 total shots, many were deflected and Michael Gspurning saved the five that got through on frame for his second consecutive clean sheet and seventh shutout of the season.
However, the match wasn’t without the typical duels of a derby match and Seattle defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke both spent some time on the sideline during the first half dealing with cuts to the head after collisions with Bright Dike.
Their work paid off in the 25th minute when the Sounders finally took the lead off an own-goal, just the third time this season they have benefitted from an own-goal.
Adam Johansson got out on the run to take a great pass from Osvaldo Alonso that was dummied through by Christian Tiffert. Johansson got into the box up the right side and crossed it for Fredy Montero, but Portland defender Mamadou Danso deflected it in for an own-goal to put the Sounders up 1-0.
They didn’t waste much time adding to that lead.
In the 28th minute, Brad Evans sent a long ball into the box for Johnson, who took a left-footed shot from 16 yards out to beat Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts inside the post for the goal, lifting the Sounders to the 2-0 lead.
It was a goal, Johnson said, that came from the cohesion of the group.
“I think we are starting to gel. Especially Fredy and I. We are starting to build a relationship that Sigi talked about us having at the beginning of the year,” said Johnson, who netted his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Montero nearly made it 3-0 just two minutes later when Johnson passed it to him on the left side and he curled a shot toward the far post, but Ricketts got his finger tip to it and pushed it off the crossbar.
The third goal would finally come in the 62nd minute.
Evans took a long throw from the left sideline, finding Johnson in the box. He flicked the ball to the far post for Montero, but his initial shot was stopped by Ricketts. Montero kept pressure on the defense though and the rebound fell to the open side of the net, where Montero lunged for it got a foot to it while Jack Jewsbury was attempting to clear it, knocking it to the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season to give Seattle the 3-0 lead and comfort in the game’s final half-hour.
“Scoring goals against Portland - that's a feeling you always want to have when you play these kind of games,” Montero said.
The win moved the Sounders into third in the Western Conference at 14-7-10 (52 points) and put them atop the Cascadia Cup standings with nine points at 2-1-3. They will retain the Cascadia Cup if the Vancouver Whitecaps win or draw with Portland on October 21 at BC Place. If Portland can earn their first road win of the season in that match, they will win the trophy for the first time when all three clubs are in competition for the Cascadia Cup.
The Sounders will have ten days before their next match, when they host Real Salt Lake at 7 pm on October 17 at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC – Own goal (Mamadou Danso) 25; Eddie Johnson (Brad Evans) 28; Fredy Montero 62;
Timbers – None.
Sounders FC – Christian Tiffert (caution) 69.
Timbers – Diego Chara (caution) 73.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 77), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 87), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert (David Estrada 88), Brad Evans, Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Lovel Palmer, David Horst, Mamadou Danso (Eric Brunner 68), Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe (Eric Alexander 78), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Sal Zizzo (Mike Fucito 46), Franck Songo’o, Bright Dike.