TACOMA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders couldn’t quite overcome a pair of goals from Brian Fernández, ultimately falling 2-1 in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday at Cheney Stadium. The Sounders were missing nine players to international duty for European Qualifiers, Copa América and the Gold Cup.
Fernández struck for the opener in the sixth minute, lashing a perfectly placed strike from outside the area past goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
Sounders midfielder Víctor Rodríguez equalized in the 44th minute with a deflected free kick that bounced past Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark. But Fernández found the net again just five minutes into the second half, finishing a pinpoint cross from Jeremy Ebobisse from point-blank range to give the visitors the 2-1 lead.
The Sounders were given a golden opportunity to equalize in the 78th minute when the Timbers were whistled for a handball in their own penalty box. Rodríguez rang the ensuing penalty kick off the crossbar, and the match finished 2-1.
The match was the first U.S. Open Cup game ever played at Cheney Stadium, home of Seattle’s USL Championship affiliate Tacoma Defiance, with the Sounders playing the rest of their previous USOC games at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. Cheney proved an electric venue, with a packed house making for a raucous atmosphere throughout the match. Seattle’s USOC run is over this year, but Cheney should be a worthy host for these matches in years to come.
FERNÁNDEZ IS LETHAL
Portland’s newly signed Argentine Designated Player has been wreaking havoc in league play ever since he arrived in MLS earlier this season, and that form certainly transferred over to Wednesday’s match. Fernández’s first goal was especially impressive, a clinical finish that showed why he’s already become known as one of the league’s most dynamic attackers. He’ll be the top name to keep an eye on when Seattle meets Portland again in MLS play at CenturyLink Field on July 21 (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).
Meredith doesn’t get much First Team action playing behind stalwart Stefan Frei, but he didn’t show much rust on Wednesday, keeping Seattle in the game with a handful of acrobatic, diving saves. Frei is the unquestioned starter and one of the franchise’s most consistent players, but Meredith showed he can still play at a high level if called upon.