In the first Cascadia matchup of 2019, the Seattle Sounders fell 2-1 to the Portland Timbers at the Mobile Mini Sun Cup in Tucson, Ariz.
Seattle opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when Tacoma Defiance midfielder Marlon Vargas teed up Homegrown winger Handwalla Bwana for a close-range header. Timbers FC equalized just seven minutes later, courtesy of a well-placed penalty kick by Diego Valeri after Andy Polo was brought down on the edge of the area. Though the Sounders carved out several chances throughout the match, Jeremy Ebobisse secured a victory for Portland with a goal in the 88th minute.
Facing a largely first-choice Timbers lineup, a heavily rotated Sounders side more than held their own throughout the first half, creating several quality chances both from sustained possession and clinical transition play. Vargas nearly scored a goal of his own in stoppage time as he exploited the space down the flank vacated by Timbers left back Jorge Villafana, but the dynamic winger’s shot skewed wide of the target.
After the break, the Timbers were awarded another spot kick in the 54th minute, but after a lengthy VAR delay, the decision was reversed. The two sides made wholesale lineup changes in the second half – the Timbers in the 60th minute and the Sounders in the 75th minute – as both sides looked to integrate younger players. Defiance attackers Alec Diaz and Azriel Gonzalez managed to produce a couple of quality chances as the team pushed forward, but Portland found the breakthrough with just minutes remaining in the match.
The Sounders will wrap-up the Tucson phase of preseason on Saturday with a friendly against Western Conference foe FC Dallas (9:00 a.m. PT, SoundersFC.com).
Harry Shipp, who did not feature in the loss to the Dynamo on Saturday, put in a solid shift as the No. 10, linking play and helping the team keep sustained possession in the opponent’s half. Alex Roldan screened the back four well, mitigating the effectiveness of Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco, and was comfortable in possession. Will Bruin stretched the backline with some clever runs and provided a focal point for the midfielders to play through. New addition Jonathan Campbell pulled off a few clutch clearances as well to keep the score line level entering the interval.
Right Back Wingo
A midfielder throughout his time with the organization – even dating back to his days in the Academy – Henry Wingo lined up as the starting right back, with Jordan McCrary manning the left flank. The Seattle native provided plenty of thrust from his deeper position, constantly overlapping and allowing Vargas to tuck inside and create. In fact, the pair nearly linked up for a goal in the 22nd minute, with the local product receiving a through-ball from Vargas before driving a low, early cross that narrowly missed the run of Bruin.
The Kids Are Alright
15-year-old Defiance midfielder Danny Leyva went the full 90, showcasing elite defensive instincts and bravery to receive the ball in traffic. His fellow Nevada native Gonzalez, 17, pulled out a few tricks and flicks after coming in the 60th minute. In addition to providing an assist, 18-year-old winger Vargas pulled off several excellent passes and made some clever runs. Attacking midfielder Danny Robles, who supplied several quality passes to release the wingers, played fellow Pac NW alum Diaz through on goal, but the striker’s venomous shot was repelled by a sprawling save from the Timbers goalkeeper.