PORTLAND – The Seattle Sounders fell short in their 100th ever meeting with the Portland Timbers on Sunday, falling 1-0 courtesy of a late winner from Portland’s Sebastian Blanco.
The match was a defensive struggle from the get-go as both sides found chances hard to come by throughout the afternoon. Clint Dempsey had perhaps Seattle’s best look of the contest in the first half, but couldn’t quite redirect a cross from left back Nouhou on target. The Timbers, meanwhile, had a golden look in the second half after star midfielder Diego Valeri broke in on Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei with a clean look on goal. However, defender Gustav Svensson made a heroic block to deny Valeri and keep the scoreless deadlock.
Portland would find the winner late, however, after Blanco slotted home a cheeky finish past Frei to finish off a trademark Timbers counterattack and send the hosts the 1-0 victory.
The result moved Seattle to 2-5-2 on the season coming off their 2-1 road victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday and 0-0 draw at home against Columbus Crew SC last weekend.
LATE GOAL SPELLS DOOM
Seattle rolled out the same 5-4-1 formation that had worked so handsomely against TFC for this one and it looked like it was set to pay off with a positive result through 87 minutes. However, much like the Sounders’ 1-0 defeat to LAFC a couple of weeks ago that saw them concede a late winner, the defensive work went for not due to Blanco’s late tally. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer may still be onto something with the more defensive-minded look seeming to work well in back-to-back road matches, so it’s possible this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this formation.
Midfielder Cristian Roldan battles with Portland's Diego Chara at Providence Park / Mike Fiechtner
KIM KEE-HEE EXITS
The turning point in Sunday’s contest arguably came when Sounders center back Kim Kee-hee was forced to exit the contest in the 72nd minute after he was left bloodied following a huge collision in the box with Portland forward Fanendo Adi. The South Korean international had been a rock beside Chad Marshall throughout the contest and Portland’s attack immediately seemed to pick up the pressure following his exit. Of course, some of that was undoubtedly due to an inevitable push for a late winner in front of their home crowd, but the Sounders will certainly hope that their new defender won’t be out of action long, especially considering they're already without Román Torres due to a hamstring injury.
TIME TO RECALIBRATE
This match capped off a marathon stretch for the Sounders, who were playing their third match this week following their fixtures against Toronto and Columbus. While it was certainly a gut punch to concede another late winner, the club will now get some time off to recalibrate, as Seattle won’t play its next First Team match until they play host to Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, May 26. That should give Schmetzer some time to work out some kinks in training and, hopefully, get a little bit healthier in what has been an injury-ravaged start to the season.
POR - Sebastián Blanco (Samuel Armenteros) 86'
SEA - Jordy Delem (Unsporting Behavior) 34'
POR - Liam Ridgewell (Unsporting Behavior) 44'
SEA - Alex Roldan (Unsporting Behavior) 76'
SEA - Henry Wingo (Unsporting Behavior) 82'
POR - Sebastián Blanco (Unsporting Behavior) 90'+6'