PORTLAND, Oregon – In a rivalry that has been marked by some heated battles since the first match played between the Sounders and Timbers in 1975, Sunday night at JELD-WEN Field was one for the ages.
The two Cascadia Cup rivals scratched and clawed and fought to the final whistle as a first-half goal by Kalif Alhassan proved to be the difference in the match as the Timbers emerged with a 1-0 victory, marking the first time this season Sounders FC has lost three consecutive matches.
“I was proud of our team tonight. I thought we battled. I thought we competed,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were unlucky. We hit the crossbar in the first half. We hit the crossbar in the second half even playing a man down. I didn’t think we deserved to lose this game at all. We deserved to come away at least with a tie.”
Seattle controlled the match in the early-going, but Portland snagged the run of play midway through the half and never ceded it back to Seattle.
In the 13th minute, Mauro Rosales put a free kick into the box from the left side and Lamar Neagle flicked a header toward the far post, but Donovan Ricketts got just enough of it to tip it away for a corner kick. Off the corner kick, Seattle got the ball back into the box from the right side and Clint Dempsey was there for a point-blank header, hitting it off the crossbar and the match remained scoreless.
Portland had its first opportunity in the 39th minute on a 20-yard blast by Darlington Nagbe from the right side, but Marcus Hahnemann shielded the ball with two hands to keep the Timbers off the board.
Nagbe then got out on the run in the 40th minute, forcing Hahnemann off his line to meet him at the top of the box. Nagbe got beyond the Seattle goalkeeper, but Osvaldo Alonso cleared the ball before he could get a shot away.
Kalif Alhassan put the Timbers into the lead just before halftime, charging onto a missed clearance at the top of the box and rifling it past Hahnemann into the low left corner for his third goal of the season and a 1-0 Portland lead in the 45th minute.
“Unlucky for us because it goes right to their guy and he smashes it into the corner. It’s super-frustrating,” Hahnemann said. “It was disappointing to go down 1-nil, but we were in the game until the end.”
In a second half that was light on offense, Seattle was dealt a challenging blow when Alonso was sent off after an altercation with Will Johnson on a dead ball. Shortly after that, Dempsey was subbed off after playing the majority of the match nursing a shoulder injury suffered on a Diego Chara foul in the 12th minute.
Even down a man, Seattle pressed for the equalizer and nearly got it in stoppage time. Off of a deep free kick, the ball bounced around in the box and was nearly put away by Steve Zakuani, but it hit off a defender’s leg and bounced into the crossbar before finally being cleared by Portland.
“That’s just the way it was today,” Zakuani said. “We hit the crossbar twice tonight … it wasn’t meant to be.”
With the final whistle Seattle dropped to 15-11-6 on the season and third in the West.
It was the first start for Hahnemann since a 2-1 win over Toronto FC on August 10. Dempsey made his first start since August 31 in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew, suffering a shoulder injury in the first half.
With the match results, Vancouver Whitecaps FC won the Cascadia Cup with a 2-1-3 record.
“We’re disappointed for our fans that we weren’t able to bring that home,” Schmid said, noting a midweek home loss to Vancouver on Wednesday was the team’s best opportunity to win the supporter-created trophy. “We didn’t lose the Cascadia Cup tonight. We lost the Cascadia Cup on Wednesday.”
Sounders FC’s next match will come on the road against FC Dallas on Saturday at Toyota Stadium.
Sounders FC – None.
Timbers – Kalif Alhassan 45.
Sounders FC – Adam Moffat (caution) 26; Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 72; Osvaldo Alonso (ejection) 75; Clint Dempsey (caution) 75.
Timbers – Kalif Alhassan (caution) 45.
Sounders FC – Marcus Hahnemann, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (David Estrada 57), Osvaldo Alonso, Adam Moffat, Alex Caskey (Andy Rose 81), Lamar Neagle, Clint Dempsey (Steve Zakuani 77).
Timbers – Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury, Pa-Modou Kah, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington, Will Johnson, Kalif Alhassan (Sal Zizzo 86), Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Jose Valencia (Ben Zemanski 67), Maximiliano Urruti (Frederic Piquionne 84).