2002 Jul 19

Seattle Sounders  2 - 1  Portland Timbers
Memorial Stadium, Seattle, WA

31' POR - Afash (Tennyson)
61' SEA - Ching (O'Brien)
71' SEA - Gregor

Seattle: Preston Burpo; Kieran Barton, Scott Jenkins, Ryan Edwards; Leighton O'Brien, Andrew Gregor, Nate Daligcon, Jason Boyce (Jason Farrell 66'), Viet Nguyen (Chad Brown 83'); Darren Sawatzky, Brian Ching.

Portland: Matt Napoleon; Brent Sancho, Gavin Wilkinson, Keith Costigan, Jesus Ochoa; Brian Winters, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Sean McAuley (Jake Sagare 77'); Greg Howes, McKinley Tennyson, Fadi Afash.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

It was gut check time as the Seattle Sounders faced the Portland Timbers just two days after the Sounders took the MLS San Jose Earthquakes into extra time in a US Open Cup match. Portland were battling for a playoff berth. The Sounders met the test with a 2-1 win over the Timbers, giving the Sounders a 3-1 edge in the season series.

The Sounders looked tired in the first half, as Portland's dangerous striker Fadi Afash was left unmarked to score the lone first-half goal. But Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer seems to pick the right words to say at halftime, even if they are subtle words, and his squad rallied to blank Portland in the second half while Brian Ching and Andrew Gregor tallied for the win. The outcome was in doubt, though, until the final whistle, as a last minute Portland free kick came very close.

This reporter was impressed with the job done by the referee crew, especially the center Rich Heron. Not all of the fans I sat near would be in total agreement my assessment, but that lot are as biased as a zener diode! I am confident that the official assessor, as well as the ARs and the 4th, would agree with my opinion that Heron turned in an exceptional performance.

An amazing but meaningless stat -- Seattle had 17 corner kicks to Portland's one.

First Half

The first excitement came just past a minute when Seattle's Viet Nguyen went airborn and crashed into Portland's Brian Winters after Winters had cleared the ball. Down went Winters. Nguyen got the yellow card, then behaved the rest of the match.

Seattle had the first chance when Gregor's corner kick was cleared past goal, but Nguyen was there for a shot at the near post which goalkeeper Matt Napoleon blocked out for another corner. A minute later Nguyen sent in a cross that was deflected by the defense to Ryan Edwards, whose header from the arc was just a half yard wide.

Seattle sweeper Kieran Barton gave the ball away on the back line and ex-Sounder Greg Howes was sprung up the middle, but Edwards and Scott Jenkins intercepted Howes inside the penalty area and Jenkins poked the ball away.

Seattle's Jason Boyce tried from 18 from a cleared corner kick, and Napoleon saved the low shot.

In the 14th minute Howes muscled through into the penalty area, but Seattle goalkeeper Preston Burpo slid out to knock the ball away from Howes, then dove on the rebound. Portland's first shot came in the 17th from their first and only corner kick of the match, taken by Sean McAuley, and McKinley Tennyson headed just over the top far corner from the center of the 6-yard line.

In the 22nd Jenkins was up for a Seattle free kick but headed his shot well wide.

In the 25th Tennyson found Afash open on the right and Afash entered the area but shot to Burpo's feet as Burpo was closing the angles.

For Seattle, Leighton O'Brien ran free up the right side for a cross that was dummied by Darren Sawatzky, and Gregor got off a shot as he was charged but couldn't get enough mustard on it, and Napoleon had an easy save.

Portland next as Tennyson got around the left side and within ten yards for a shot, which Burpo saved at the top of his head.

31' Afash (Tennyson). Howes won the ball at the left touch line and dished a square pass to Tennyson, who found Afash totally unmarked on the right side. Afash had an unpressured shot and beat Burpo to the far side. 0-1 Portland.

Back to the Sounders in the 36th as Edwards crashed the goal to get a head on Gregor's corner kick, but he couldn't reach enough of the ball.

For Portland, Tennyson was sprung by a ball over the defense and had only Burpo to beat from 10 yards on the right, but he missed the far post by a yard.

In the 43rd Seattle's Boyce outraced Brent Sancho to a through ball but missed the far post by two yards from 18. An attack up the left led to a Jenkins cross to Sawatzky out from the near post, but the first-touch shot went over the bar.

Portland had the last chance of the half when a long free kick was passed diagonally back for Afash, who shot through the crowd from 15 yards, and Burpo did well to collapse for the save.

Halftime: Seattle 0 - 1 Portland

The Sounders came out fired up in the second half and would outshoot the Timbers 14-3. All three of Portland's shots, though, would force good saves by Burpo.

Boyce was first with a shot from 30 yards, but he skied it. Ching's shot from the arc deflected off Sancho's foot and looped over Napoleon towards goal, and Napoleon registered his best save by scrambling back to push the ball over the bar. In the 53rd O'Brien made space 15 yards from goal in the center and fired, hitting the inside of the left post, and the ball bounced across the goal mouth, a defender reaching it first to clear backwards for a corner. A minute later O'Brien cracked one from 25 up the middle, and Napoleon made a fine save. Then Boyce chipped the ball to Ching 10 yards from the middle of the goal, but the header went two yards wide of the far post.

61' Ching (O'Brien). O'Brien was tripped near the Portland bench. He took the 30-yard free kick, bending it with speed to the center of the 6-yard line, where Ching used his foot to redirect the ball past Napoleon and in. 1-1.

Seattle kept up the attack as Nguyen beat a pair to earn a shot from the right aimed at the far post, and Napoleon dove to push it wide and a defender cleared. An O'Brien free kick from 25 curled around the wall but to Napoleon.

The 65th minute saw Portland's first shot of the half, Tennyson shooting from the arc at the left post, and Burpo diving for the save.

71' Gregor. Gregor's corner kick from the right side went off Napoleon's fingertips by the near post and into the far side netting. 2-1 Seattle. This was Seattle's third goal of the season scored directly from a corner kick. O'Brien has done that trick twice.

In the 75th Tennyson knocked Edwards over in the penalty area to get the ball and he netted it, but assistant referee Kevin Boisen was wiggling his flag and the ball was pulled back for a Seattle free kick. A minute later Tennyson broke free on the left and dribbled into the area with only Burpo to beat, and Burpo waited, then rushed out and slid to stuff the shot.

The next 12 minutes saw no good chances, then the Sounders had three. In the 88th Ching got his head on a Gregor corner kick but put it well over the bar. In the 90th Gregor bent a hard shot from 25 and just missed the near post. Sawatzky was sprung on the right and sped in for a 15-yard shot that rolled just wide of the far post.

It was the 4th and final minute of added time and Burpo came well outside his area to clear a ball, but Howes on the attack tangled with Kieran Barton and went down. AR Boisen waved his flag and Portland had a last chance with a 23-yard free kick right up the middle. Hugo Alcaraz took a fine shot, bending it to the top left corner, and it had goal written all over it, but Burpo guessed correctly and flew to push the ball wide for his best save of the night.

Final: Seattle 2 - 1 Portland

        Seattle  Portland
Shots:     23       10
Saves:      8       10
Corners:   17        1
Fouls:     15       22
Offsides:   0        2

2' SEA - Nguyen cautioned for knocking Winters down late near the halfway line.
30' SEA - O'Brien cautioned for fouling Howes near the halfway line.
48' SEA - Gregor cautioned for missing the ball and getting Winters near the halfway line.

Referee: Rich Heron; Kevin Boisen, Doug Pinski; Jim Kokenos.
Attendance: 2,595