There’s no way around it, the Seattle Sounders’ 2-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers in the Fourth Round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night was disappointing.
The Rave Green outshout their opponent (24 vs. 13) and dictated the tempo for long stretches of the match, but a brace from Portland’s Brian Fernández and some outstanding saves from goalkeeper Steve Clark saw the Timbers knock the Sounders out of the U.S. Open Cup for just the second time in six head-to-head matches.
One silver lining from the frustrating result was the fantastic atmosphere at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
Historically, the Sounders have played every home match in the competition at Starfire Sports, save for two finals that were played at CenturyLink Field. This year, however, they opted to put on a show in the South Sound, in the very same stadium where their USL affiliate, the Tacoma Defiance, plays its home matches.
“Our guys down there behind the goal did a great job, and the fans everywhere [throughout the stadium],” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “It was great.”
Wednesday night’s sellout crowd of 6,280 marked a club record for a non-final match in the Open Cup during the MLS era.
It was a difficult opponent on a scorching evening, but the boisterous support throughout the 90 minutes propelled the Sounders to push even harder for as the match approached the end of regulation time.
“It was a good crowd,” said midfielder Harry Shipp. “It helped us, especially in the second half when it was hot and humid. I think for us, having that crowd cheering us on helped us push for that tying goal in the last 15-20 minutes.”
The team celebrates Seattle's equalizer in the 44th minute | Mike Fiechtner
For 16-year-old Homegrown midfielder Danny Leyva, who earned his first-ever start for the Sounders First Team, his familiarity with the environment from his time with the Defiance helped smooth the transition, as evidenced by his 88.1% pass-completion percentage.
“I knew it a bit better than the other guys,” remarked Leyva. “It definitely helped to be playing here before.”
Attacking midfielder Víctor Rodríguez, who scored Seattle’s lone goal on his first trip down to Tacoma, was impressed by the facilities, noting the role supporters played throughout the rivalry game.
“It was very good, the atmosphere today,” added Rodriguez. “They always support the team in the good moments and the bad moments.”
The Sounders will take a brief hiatus from official competition during the international break, returning to the fold on June 29 for a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (TICKETS).