2004 Sep 1

Playoffs, 1st round, 1st leg:
Portland Timbers 2 - 1 Seattle Sounders
PGE Park, Portland, OR

17' SEA - Levesque (Sakuda)

52' POR - Alvarez (Alcaraz-Cuellar)
82' POR - Gregor (PK)

Portland: Josh Saunders; Gavin Wilkinson, Scott Thompson, Lee Morrison; Brian Winters, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Andrew Gregor, Edwin Miranda, Jake Sagare; Alan Gordon, Byron Alvarez (Fadi Afash 82'). Substitutes not used: Elfvin Bayard, David Henning, Alex Bengard, Memo Arzate, Eric Cronkrite, Dan Antoniuk.

Seattle: Preston Burpo; Danny Jackson, Marco Velez, Zach Scott, Billy Sleeth; Kevin Sakuda, Jason Farrell, Ben Somoza, Sean-Michael Callahan (Chad Brown 62'), Jonathan Bolaņos (Darren Sawatzky 77'); Roger Levesque. Substitutes not used: Danny Waltman, Scott Jenkins, Craig Tomlinson, Kyle Smith, Viet Nguyen.

Additional match reports: Timber Mill (with photos), Portland Oregonian, Timbers, Seattle Times, Sounders.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

In their first match of the playoffs, the Seattle Sounders won the first half with an early goal, but lost the match to a late penalty kick 2-1. The Portland Timbers take that lead into the second leg of the playoff series, to be finished in Seattle on Sunday. Roger Levesque gave the Sounders the early lead. Portland's Byron Alvarez leveled the score early in the second half. Late in the match the assistant referee called a foul on Marco Velez for elbowing Alvarez a couple of yards inside the penalty area, resulting in a red card for Velez and a penalty kick, converted by ex-Sounder Andrew Gregor.

Ryan Edwards was a late addition to the injured list when he pulled a groin in practice. Welton was out, still bothered by a bruised hip.

First Half

The first half was unusually full of action, with a dozen shots for Portland and 8 for Seattle. Sean-Michael Callahan was first for Seattle in the 3rd minute, from a distance forcing Josh Saunders to save at the top far corner. Brian Winters replied for Portland a minute later, sending a shot well over the bar from a distance. Alvarez got a header on goal in the 10th, but Preston Burpo easily saved.

Portland fans thought they had the first goal when Alvarez broke through and netted in the 15th, but referee Nathan Lacy judged that Alvarez had fouled his marker to get free.

17' Levesque (Sakuda). Just 2 minutes after the ball was pulled out of Seattle's net, it went into Portland's cleanly. Ben Somoza's long throw-in was headed past goal, where Jonathan Bolaņos won it. Bolaņos popped the ball to the top of the penalty area, where Kevin Sakuda rose to head it hard at Levesque's feet. Levesque redirected the ball to the lower left corner past his marker and out of Saunders' reach. 1-0 Seattle.

Portland promptly came back with good chances. Gregor got loose in the penalty area and shot from 12 yards on the right, but right at Burpo's chest. In the 21st Burpo dove forward to push a cross out of the goal area, giving Alvarez a put-back shot from 12 yards that he blasted a yard above the top near corner.

Back to Seattle in the 26th, with Zach Scott heading a corner kick sharply at the top far corner, and Saunders got there for the save.

For Portland, the best chance of the half came in the 32nd when Alvarez got to a dangerous through ball at the 18, but Burpo slid out to the 18 just in time to block Alvarez' touch and Seattle's defense cleared the leftovers. Immediately the other way, a dangerous through ball was sent up for Levesque, but Saunders was out wide just in time to clear it.

Portland got a big scare in the 41st when an unwise backpass was dropped to Saunders, and Callahan came flying across to block Saunders' attempted cleareance. The rebound missed the empty goal by just a foot.

The final couple of minutes of the half was intense. A Portland throw-in into the area for Alan Gordon was laid back for Alvarez, and Burpo dove to pull it off Gordon's foot.

The other way, Levesque was sprung again and appeared to have only Saunders to beat from 15 yards, but Levesque was charged roughly from entirely behind as he shot, forcing it wide, but Lacy didn't see enough to call a PK.

Portland finished with chances from Edwin Miranda, just wide with a 30-yarder up the middle, then Gordon, a half yard wide of the far post from 18, and Alcaraz-Cuellar, a yard and a half with a free kick from prime real estate just above the penalty area.

Halftime: Portland 0 - 1 Seattle

52' Alvarez (Alcaraz-Cuellar). Alcaraz-Cuellar carried the ball from the right touch line square to the near end of the arc, then sent a low shot at goal. Alvarez was in the path near the penalty spot, goalside of the nearby defenders, and redirected the ball to the lower right corner, giving Burpo no chance. Burpo raised his arm, believing that Alvarez was offside on the play, but the assistant referee did not raise his flag. We were behind the AR in the stands, and from that angle it was not apparent that Alvarez had touched the ball. 1-1.

After 14 quiet minutes, Seattle regained the initiative in the 66th when Levesque was sprung on the right side with a long service, and his quick shot from 20 missed the far post by a yard. Somoza blistered a shot from 20 at the top corner, and Saunders had to parry it down first to take the sting out of it.

From a cleared Portland corner kick in the 73rd, Gregor crossed it back in for a Gordon header from 15 and Burpo made it to the far post for the first save of the half.

For Seattle, Levesque had one more good chance when Bolaņos' feed set up a shot from the top of the arc, but it missed a yard wide.

82' Gregor (PK). The match went down the drain for Seattle in the 79th minute. With the ball being worked around outside the Seattle penalty area, Alvarez went down three yards inside the area. Referee Lacy didn't see the incident, but after a couple of seconds the assistant referee wiggled his flag. After a brief consultation with the AR, Lacy pulled a red card for Velez and the AR went to the corner flag for a penalty kick. Velez has been known to throw elbows, and Alvarez has been known to dive, and it might have been some of each, but only Alvarez and Velez know for sure. Gregor took the penalty kick and sent it right when he saw Burpo going the other way. 2-1 Portland.

Short a man, Seattle would get no more good chances. Miranda got a put-back chance from 20 when a ball was cleared, but was 2 yards high. In the 90th Gordon got his best chance of the evening with a turn-and-shoot from 15 yards, blasted right at Burpo, who parried before collecting the ball.

Final: Portland 2 - 1 Seattle

         Portland  Seattle
Shots:      20       13
Saves:       6        5
Corners:     3        3
Fouls:       7       16
Offsides:    2        1

28' SEA - Bolaņos cautioned for standing in front of the ball before a Portland free kick.
38' SEA - Sleeth cautioned unjustly for tripping Sagare.
45' SEA - Burpo cautioned for delay on a goal kick.
47' POR - Winters cautioned for tripping Bolaņos.
79' SEA - Velez sent off, allegedly for elbowing Alvarez.
87' SEA - Scott cautioned for knocking Alcaraz-Cuellar down from behind going for an air ball.

Referees: Nathan Lacy; Eduardo Irigoyen, David Grbavac; Jerry Gompers.
Attendance: 4,863