Portland Timbers 0 - 1 Seattle Sounders
PGE Park, Portland, OR
7' SEA – Ching (Bardales)
Portland: Matt Napoleon; Jeff Clarke, Gavin Wilkinson, Scott Benedetti; Keith Costigan, Kevin Legg, Michael O'Neill, Brent Sancho, Brian Winters (Darren Sawatzky 71'); Greg Howes, Mark Baena.
Seattle: Preston Burpo; Ali John Utush, Kieran Barton, Mike Casale;
Sean Henderson, Kei Kinoshita, Scott Jenkins, Jason Farrell; Viet Nguyen,
Brian Ching, Isaias Bardales Jr. (No substitutions!)
Match report by Ron
An early goal by Brian Ching held to give the visiting Seattle Sounders a 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers. Ching and Isaias Bardales Jr joined the Sounders on loan from the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy. This was Ching's third A-League match with the Sounders this season and Bardales' first.
Portland fans were left wondering how a team that had won its way to the top of the table could suffer what is now a three and a half match stretch with no goals. The answer probably has more to do with the strength of the whole Western Conference than with any problems with the Timbers, as Seattle, starting the day in 6th-place, pulled within a match of 1st-place Portland. And last in the conference is the Minnesota Thunder, A-League runners up last year.
Preston Burpo earned his 4th shutout of the season, helped greatly by Seattle's back three: AJ Utush, Mike Casale and Kieran Barton.
Both Leighton O'Brien and Ryan Edwards sat out the match for the Sounders due to yellow card accumulation. For Portland, usual starter Darren Sawatzky was suffering from a pulled groin muscle and played only the final 20 minutes, the only substitute who played in the match. This was the first time in three years that the Sounders played a match with no substitutions.
The referees had to apologize in the 2nd minute when the assistant referee flagged offside a Seattle attacker who had gotten the ball from a throw-in and referee Ramon Hernandez whistled it. The players were gentlemanly about it when play restarted with a dropped ball, and Seattle left it alone for Portland, who passed it to Seattle's defenders.
After a Brent Sancho cross was taken by Sounders goalkeeper Preston Burpo, Seattle earned the first shot. Ching was sprung to a through ball in the 3rd minute, but 15 yards from goal Portland 'keeper Matt Napoleon was there for the chest block of Ching's shot.
7' Ching (Bardales). Bardales' dangerous cross in front of goal was cleared out for a corner kick. Viet Nguyen's corner from the right was cleared out of the penalty area, but shot back in by Bardales. The shot was deflected by a defender, but to Ching near the spot with his back to the goal for an impressive overhead volley, aimed just below the crossbar. 1-0 Seattle.
Portland's first good chance came in the 20th when Mark Baena did well to win Michael O'Neill's cross in the air 12 yards from goal. Burpo made a tough save, then had to dive goalward to stop the rebound as the ball still had eyes for the goal. Brian Winters stole a ball in Seattle's end and was tripped as he entered the penalty area straight up the middle, and the free kick from the 18-yard line went past the wall only to be blocked in front of goal and cleared by the defense. Portland's best chance came in the 29th when Baena was open on the left to carry deep into the left side of the area and cross, but O'Neill volleyed well over the bar from the center of the 6-yard line and he couldn't believe he had wasted the opportunity.
Seattle took the initiative for the remainder of the first half. Nguyen from the right side carried across the top of the penalty box and shot at the near post, but Napoleon was there. Bardales tried from outside the right edge of the penalty area but missed the top far corner by a couple of yards. O'Neill was cautioned for taking Ching down at the left edge of the box, and Mike Casale headed Nguyen's free kick wide of the far post.
Casale was having an impressive match in Seattle's back line, clearing a couple of dangerous Portland attacks from in front of goal before a shot was taken. The two minutes saw a Nguyen corner kick sent to Ching 10 yards out from the near post, and his low shot was just a hair wide of the same post. Sean Henderson forced the last save of the half with a soft shot from 20 yards.
Halftime: Portland 0 – 1 Seattle
Seattle came an inch from a goal 3 minutes into the second half. Kei Kinoshita served Jenkins on the left for a cross from the end line, and 10 yards out from the far post Nguyen touched the ball sideways and unleashed a shot at the top far corner that hit the crossbar, bounced down onto the line, and jumped back into play from the spin imparted by the bar. The assistant referee judged that the ball had not entirely crossed the line.
The tide turned Portland's way when they took their first corner kick in the 51st, headed wide by Greg Howes. O'Neill ran up the middle, fed by Howes, and fired from 20, missing the top near corner by a yard. Sancho's header from a corner kick missed the top far corner by a yard.
Back Seattle's way in the 66th, a Seattle free kick play gave Henderson a chip attempt from 20 yards that was a yard high of the top near corner. Nguyen was served at the top of the arc by Bardales, but Nguyen's curled shot missed by a few yards.
Sawatzky entered for Portland in the 71st, replacing Winters, as Portland shifted from a 3-5-2 lineup to 3-4-3.
The 80th minute saw Burpo cautioned for breaking up a promising Portland attack by going a yard outside the penalty area to punch the ball away. Keith Costigan took the resulting free kick, and sent it right into Burpo's bread basket.
Ching took Seattle's last attempt in the 86th, heading a long free kick but unable to reach enough of the ball.
Two minutes from time O'Neill tripped Henderson hard enough to earn his second yellow card of the match and he was sent off.
Portland's last chance was a corner in added time, but Sawatzky's corner kick was cleared by Casale and it was over.
Final: Portland 0 – 1 Seattle
Shots: 8 16
Saves: 4 3
Corners: 4 11
Fouls: 15 16
Offsides: 1 3
36' POR – O'Neill cautioned for taking Ching down at the left edge of the penalty area.
63' POR – Legg cautioned for tripping Kinoshita at the halfway line.
69' SEA – Nguyen cautioned, apparently for diving.
75' SEA – Utush cautioned for time wasting.
80' SEA – Burpo cautioned for punching a ball away a yard outside the penalty area.
89' POR – O'Neill cautioned for tripping Henderson and sent off for the second yellow card.
Referee: Ramon Hernandez; Asst Refs: Simon Ingham, Desi Miller; 4th: