Character shown by Sounders to earn gritty point in crazy draw with Timbers

There are many different ways to earn a draw, some more galvanizing than others. When a team can hold firm and escape with a scoreless road draw, there is a level of satisfaction that can come from grinding out that kind of result.

What Sounders FC felt on Saturday by coming back from a 4-2 deficit in the 87th minute to earn a point on the road against the club’s biggest rivals, the Portland Timbers, is a different feeling altogether. The 4-4 draw, highlighted by Clint Dempsey’s hat trick, left the Seattle locker room with a positive vibe.

“We never give up. We keep fighting. We keep pushing and that point today felt like more than a point,” Dempsey said. “It almost felt kind of like a win and it’s a little bit of a momentum builder going into next week.”

Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid has talked at length about the character of his club and already in Seattle’s two road matches the intestinal fortitude of the team has been on full display.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about, to not lose faith in what we’re trying to do and maintain it and keep fighting for each other and good things will happen,” Schmid said. “I think the team showed that a couple of times today.”

Seattle got on the board first with Kenny Cooper’s second goal of the season in the third minute, as the former Timber got one over on his old club by getting his foot to a ball that looked bound for goal by Jalil Anibaba.

However, Portland would answer with goals from Diego Chara in the ninth minute and Diego Valeri in the 14th minute to give the Timbers the lead and momentum. Just as quickly as the Sounders fell behind, though, they were able to equalize and it was Dempsey netting his first goal of the match to ensure that Seattle wouldn’t go into the half with a deficit.

In the 24th minute, Seattle pressured the Timbers in their own end and Cooper won possession for the Sounders. Alonso played a header to Obafemi Martins, who rolled it out to Dempsey alone in the box and he cut it past Andrew Weber for his second goal of the season to make it 2-2.

Things were far from quiet over the next 30 minutes of action, even if nothing turned up on the score sheet. Then in the 55th minute, Chara struck again, as Portland gained possession in the midfield and Chara carried it into the attack unhindered by the Seattle defense and let loose an open shot for his second goal of the match and a 3-2 Portland lead.

Less than two minutes later, Maximiliano Urruti came from behind Anibaba and took it cleanly off his foot to get in 1v1 against Frei, shooting inside the far post for his first goal of the season to put Seattle behind 4-2.

Sounders FC didn’t hang its head though and continued to battle with the roar of the Seattle crowd in the corner of the stadium rumbling behind it.

“Even at 4-2, I felt like there were goals out there for us to get,” said defender Chad Marshall. “We just kept working hard and fought for each other.”

Seattle crept back into the match in the 85th minute when Lamar Neagle made a quick turn on Michael Harrington on the right side and played a ball to Martins in the box. Martins played it to Dempsey coming down the left side, who gathered it and put the close-range shot away for his second goal of the match, bringing the score to 4-3.

In the 86th minute, DeAndre Yedlin got into the mix, charging on a loose ball in the box and drawing contact from Portland’s Ben Zemanski for a penalty.

Dempsey coolly converted and the comeback was complete, evening the score at 4-4.
It was one of the more entertaining draws you’ll see in Major League Soccer and one that both teams can learn from and view in a positive manner. And while Seattle is never happy to allow four goals, the team won’t dwell too much on those negative elements, instead keeping an optimistic approach while knowing that there is still work to be done.

“You’ve got to take something out of every game. You look at the positives and the negatives,” Yedlin said. “We’ll stay positive, but also look at what we can improve.”

Added Neagle, who came off the bench to notch his second assist of the season, “It’s just another time to build together.”