2003 Aug 18

Portland Timbers  1 - 0  Seattle Sounders
PGE Park, Portland, OR

55' POR - Sagare

Portland: Josh Saunders; Gavin Wilkinson (Bryn Ritchie 83'), Aaron Heinzen, Nick Downing, Lee Morrison; Brian Winters, Jake Sagare, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Scott Benedetti; Fadi Afash (Dan Antoniuk 76'), McKinley Tennyson (Byron Alvarez 67'). Substitutes not used: Cole Burgman, Ryan Youngblood, Jason Melendez, Manuel Brasil.

Seattle: Preston Burpo; Zach Scott, Ryan Edwards, Scott Jenkins; Sean Henderson (Chad Brown 65'), Jason Farrell (Kevin Sakuda 73'), Viet Nguyen (Darren Sawatzky 56'), Andrew Gregor, Sean-Michael Callahan; Marco Velez (Herculez Gomez 65'), Kyle Smith (Roger Levesque 57'). Substitutes not used: Rich Cullen, Ben Somoza.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

The Portland Timbers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win over the visiting Seattle Sounders. Jake Sagare scored the lone goal after receiving the ball from an unforced Seattle turnover, then carrying the ball half the length of the field past the Seattle defense. Seattle had a few good chances, but Josh Saunders made the saves when he needed to and earned the shutout.

After winning the first four matches of the season series, Seattle gave up the last two to Portland and won the series 4-2. That edge will give Seattle the standings tiebreaker over Portland if needed.

First Half

The Sounders looked better for the first 30 minutes. Kyle Smith was sent in on the right in the 3rd minute but his cross/shot sailed a couple of yards over the bar. Then Portland for some reason headed a ball into their own penalty area and Smith tried to head-flick it over Saunders, but Saunders was at home for the save. Jason Farrell cracked a shot up the middle from 35 yards in the 11th, and Saunders leaped left to push it wide, conceding a corner. Then Farrell worked a wall pass and looked to be sprung into the middle of the penalty area, but he was taken down 15 yards from goal by Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar's slide tackle and referee Kevin Stott ignored Farrell's plea for a penalty.

Portland's first shot didn't come until the 15th minute, when a closely marked McKinley Tennyson managed to get to Fadi Afash's cross on a far-post run and the header went a yard wide from 8. In the 22nd, Gavin Wilkinson forced a save when he sent back in a ball cleared from the Seattle area.

Seattle appeared to have a breakaway when Andrew Gregor's long pass up the right side sprung Marco Velez, but Velez shot from wide right onto the roof of the goal.

Portland pressured heavily for the next 15 minutes. Tennyson beat two defenders to get deep into the area on the right in the 32nd, and he shot under Zach Scott who was dropping for a slide, but Burpo saved well at the near post. In the left side of the area Scott slid to tackle the ball as Lee Morrison was shooting; the ball went wide for a goal kick and Morrison took a couple of minutes before he could limp off to recover. Sean-Michael Callahan's attempted clearance didn't clear the penalty area and Alcaraz-Cuellar was first to the ball, seeing an open lane to the far post and missing it by just a foot.

Seattle finally got a counterattack in the 45th minute, and it looked very promising as Smith ran into Portland's half on the left, cut to the middle and served straight ahead into open space for Velez' diagonal run from the right. Velez had only Saunders to beat and shot under the charging, collapsing keeper, but the ball missed the near post by two yards with the goal wide open.

Halftime: Portland 0 - 0 Seattle

Portland kept the momentum at the start of the second period. A loose ball in Seattle's area ended up finding Afash for a straight-ahead shot from 15 yards, but it was fired right into Burpo's bread basket.

Seattle had a good chance in the 50th, working the ball around in the penalty area until Viet Nguyen spotted Farrell open for a 20-yarder from the right, and Saunders nicely saved the shot aimed at the far post.

55' Sagare. A bad square pass in the Seattle midfield gave Sagare the ball 15 yards into Portland's half. He carried the ball over the halfway line, up the left middle, and nicely cut right to the arc, avoiding a few defenders on the way. Sagare was wide open for a quick shot from 15 to the lower left corner. 1-0 Portland.

Seattle promptly started substituting liberally, but the fresh legs would be no more effective than the starters. The closest Seattle got to a goal came in the 62nd from a set play when Timbers defender Aaron Heinzen gave the ball a sideways volley while facing his goal, intending to clear it out for a corner but hitting the post hard and square, almost scoring an own goal. The rebound went through the crowd to Velez in the arc, and he fired it back through the crowd on goal, and Saunders made a big diving save and held on.

In the 64th advantage was allowed as Sagare was open on the left, and his cross to the near post was redirected on goal by Afash, but Burpo came out to smother the shot.

The rest of the match saw few opportunities, as Portland defended well. Seattle tried long prayer balls in the air for awhile, but that didn't generate any shots. Finally, in the 80th, Roger Levesque had control in the middle of Portland's penalty area and dropped a short pass for Darren Sawatzky's run, and a good pass would have given Seattle their best chance yet, but the pass was weighted too heavily and Sawatzky was unable to get the shot on frame.

Portland substitute Byron Alvarez deserved a card in the 81st for kicking Scott in the leg late after Scott cleared the ball, but referee Stott wouldn't pull the card out. This resulted in sharp words exchanged between opposing players near the foul and then near the center circle, and both assistant referees ended up in the circle to help Stott regain order.

Two last chances for Seattle. Callahan shot a yard over the bar from the left end of the arc on a throw-in play in the 88th. In the 89th Levesque fed Herculez Gomez on a nicely timed run and Gomez' return cross from the end line almost gave Levesque a header but he could only reach a small piece of the ball. Four minutes of added time resulted in no shots.

Final: Portland 1 - 0 Seattle

        Portland  Seattle
Shots:      14       11
Saves:       5        5
Corners:     1        7
Fouls:      16       12
Offsides:    1        1

7' SEA - Edwards cautioned for holding Sagare to keep him from going past up the left side.
17' SEA - Velez cautioned for holding Wilkinson to keep him from getting a ball in the corner.

Referees: Kevin Stott; Desmond Miller, Scott Lawrence; David Grbavac.
Attendance: 6,329