2011 May 14

First Cascadia match is a wet draw

Seattle Sounders FC  1 - 1  Portland Timbers
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

52' SEA: Alvaro Fernandez (Fredy Montero, Roger Levesque)

65' POR: Mamadou Danso (Jack Jewsbury)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl; Brad Evans (Roger Levesque 42'), Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez; Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua (Lamar Neagle 79').
Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Mike Fucito.

Portland: Troy Perkins; Jeremy Hall, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace; Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo 61'), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan; Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Ryan Pore 84').
Substitutes not used: Jake Gleeson, David Horst, Steve Purdy, James Marcelin, Adam Moffat.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The first MLS match between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers ended in a 1-1 draw after Mamadou Danso scored on a free kick play to match Alvaro Fernandez' earlier goal.

A steady rain fell throughout the match, but it didn't prevent a record attendance for a Seattle MLS match, 36,593.

Before kickoff the ECS went over the top with their tifo, unfurling 9 banners that covered the end sections 50 yards wide. First, up went banners for Fredy Montero and past Sounders Preston Burpo, Marcus Hahnemann, Jimmy Gabriel, and Brian Schmetzer. From the top ring down came a banner with an arm sporting a Sounders logo as a tattoo and the hand was crushing a Timbers logo. Down came banners saying "Decades of dominance." Finally, up went a banner featuring Roger Levesque and the caption "48 seconds," referring to his quick goal in Portland in a 2009 US Open Cup match. At the opposite end, the North End Supporters had their own large banner which said "We are faithful, we are Sounders."

Seattle started firing early. Montero was first in the 3rd minute with a long shot skipped off the wet turf, forcing a diving save by Troy Perkins. A minute later Brad Evans headed a shot wide from a throw-in play.

Portland's first shot came at 13' when Jorge Perlaza found space in the middle and slipped a pass through for Kenny Cooper on the right. Kasey Keller was well positioned to take Cooper's shot low. Five minutes later Cooper tried from 25 yards and Keller went upstairs to grab it. Then it was Danso with a header from a free kick aimed at the near post, saved by Keller with a dive. Three shots for Portland, all on goal.

The rest of the first half produced only two good chances,both for Seattle. At 28' Osvaldo Alonso volleyed a cross at the top of the arc and missed the top far corner. As the clock reached the end of the half, Montero was fouled and took the 23-yard free kick, sending it around the wall and missing the lower near corner by a foot.

Seattle used an early substitute when Evans went off at 42' with a groin pull. Levesque came on to man the right side of midfield.

Seattle got a great start to the second half. In the first minute Levesque, Montero, and Nate Jaqua combined a series of short passes in traffic that almost gave Jaqua a shot in front of goal, but Eric Brunner managed to clear it for a corner. The corner kick was flicked on to Montero at the far post, and he headed a shot just wide. Another corner kick was popped on goal by Jaqua, forcing a save.

52' SEA: Fernandez (Montero, Levesque). On a Seattle attack, Levesque sent in a cross to the center of the 18, where Montero beat two defenders to head the ball on to a now open Fernandez. The first touch by Fernandez sent him in on goal. He froze Perkins, then sent a low shot past the keeper on the near side. 1-0 Seattle.

Four minutes later Montero earned a quick strike from 15 yards and Perkins did well to parry it straight up.

65' POR: Danso (Jewsbury). Jack Jewsbury sent a long free kick into the penalty area. The Seattle defenders were guilty of breaking from the offside line too soon, allowing Danso to beat Keller to the ball 8 yards from goal and head it in. 1-1.

Portland's defense did not allow Seattle any good chances for the final 25 minutes. Well, there was one good chance when Levesque was served on the right and sent a good cross towards Montero, but Danso reached back with his arm and blocked the cross. A penalty kick should have been awarded, but wasn't.

Seattle's defense did well at the end, too, allowing only one chance late in the match when Jewsbury shot quickly from 25 yards and did not miss by much.

          SEA  POR
Shots:     13   11
Saves:      4    3
Corners:    7    2
Fouls:     10    9
Offsides:   1    1


Referees: Jair Marrufo; Fabio Tovar, Corey Rockwell; Tyler Ploeger

Attendance: 36,593 (Sounders record for an MLS match)

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

General Comments: "Not pleased from the standpoint that we had the lead and we gave them a goal back. Their game is predicated around free kicks and set pieces. That's what their danger is. That's what they live for. The referee gave them quite a few. It seemed like our fouls happened for us on our (defensive) end of the field and theirs happened on their (offensive) end of the field. At the end of the day, we have to defend those things and we have to take care of that business. Losing a player like Evans changes it and losing Friberg as we prepare for the game certainly changes things as well for us. You add it up and you have Friberg, Evans, O'Brian White, Rosales, Zakuani, that's a lot of pieces to be missing where they're not really missing any pieces. "

"I thought we scored a good goal and at the beginning of the second half we got ahold of the game based on what we talked about; settling the game down a little bit. It's hard in this weather and I think the weather suited them a little bit more in the sense that they go direct and try to knock it up to their big men and they were a bit better at that than we were. At the start of the second half we did a decent job. That's the reason I thought we got the goal and we were around it a couple of times, but we need to finish it off."

On game atmosphere: "The atmosphere was great. You had their fans, which is something you normally don't have, a loud group from the opposing team, so that added to the pageantry of the game. But at the end of the day, we're at home and we need to get three points at home."

On injuries: "Friberg has a sprained ankle. We'll have to see. It's sort of a day-to-day thing. Evans pulled a groin muscle, so we'll have to see how that comes along."

On goal: "Roger Levesque hit the ball across and into the middle, and Fredy did a good job flicking it on with the header and Alvaro's first touch was very good and he finished it, so it was a good goal."

On first half: "It was hit and miss, a patchy game. For us, the big problem in the first half was having Carrasco and Alonso in midfield together. They both sat back too deep, so it was very tough for our forward s to have a connection for someone to play back to. That's what we talked about at halftime, that one of the two of them needed to push up more. That was something we talked about before the game, but in the heat of the game they forgot it. And our outside guys needed to pinch in a little bit so we get guys underneath our forwards. It was pretty helter-skelter in the first half."

On Carrasco: "He's a rookie and he's going to make some good things and he's going to make some things that maybe aren't as good. Overall, he's a good player and has a good future. Sometimes him and Alonso, the pairing of the two of them is maybe not the best pairing because they both like to look for the ball in the same spaces. You're trying to get one to play off the other one a little more. That's something that we talked about before the game and talked about again at halftime. It got better for periods of time, but it wasn't as good as it needed to be. If they have more time together, playing together, that will get better."

On physicality of play: "I don't know if it's a rivalry on the pitch that make it physical. I think it was physical because that's the nature of their game. You don't see their goalkeeper throw the ball out and they're not going to build. Everything is either a punt or a goal kick. As a result, the ball's in the air, and they run guys outside in. Maybe I saw wrong, but you have guys on their team sometimes jumping and not even seeing where the ball is, just jumping in the air against our guys. So that was the physical side of the game tonight. It was a lot of contesting balls in the air. It's a lot of headers, it's a lot of knockdowns, it's a lot of second balls. I don't think that was because of the rivalry, it was because of the way they play."

On Danso's defensive headers: "You should win a lot of headers if you're going against Montero. If the ball's up in the air, he's a good player. If we could have gotten the ball on the ground more and taken him that way, then we would have forced him to defend a little bit more. Overall, he did what he needed to do today. At a crucial moment, we won a header and flicked a ball ahead in the box against Brunner who is probably better in the air than Danso, so those guys are obviously difficult guys in the air."

Nate Jaqua

On the match and if it felt like a rivalry: "Yeah, there was definitely a little bit more to it. I think everybody was kind of flying around a little bit more. I think they did a good job the first half of letting us not get into a good rhythm. In the second half I thought we started playing well. We got the goal. We were kind of getting after them and had a couple of pretty good chances to put it away. We weren't able to do that and they were able to get a little bit of momentum. They're dangerous on free kicks."

Kasey Keller

On the match: "Yeah, it's a little disappointing. The first half was pretty even. They had some shots, we had some shots. I agree with what Nate said; I thought the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half we came out and played some good stuff. Got the reward, got the goal. Then we just kind of messed it up a little bit, which is frustrating. We know they're a dangerous team on set pieces. We talked about it all week. They started winning a few more set pieces in dangerous positions and Jewsbury hits a great ball in and they have some big bodies in there. We're a little frustrated because we all thought we dropped our line a little bit too quick and let them get on top of us. You get a big kid like Danso in there, he's going to win stuff. Unfortunately he kind of just beat me to the ball. I couldn't get there quite quick enough, which was frustrating."

On if the draw is more frustrating because of the rivalry factor: "It's a combo. Of course we would have loved 500 fans to drive home disappointed and wet and frustrated. We would love for our fans to be celebrating tonight. You get the 1-0 lead, and can we fight like hell to keep that? Unfortunately they are very dangerous on set pieces. They've scored over 70 percent of their goals on set pieces and there's a reason for that."

Roger Levesque

On the match: "Having that one goal lead and the excitement that created...keep the pressure on after we scored the goal. We had a few chances to put it out of reach - didn't do that. We know they're strong on set pieces. A lucky bounce or whatever it was; a good goal by their center back. The atmosphere was great. The fans were great. There's no question about that. It was electric. The best atmosphere that I think we've had. That's definitely something to feed off of. Now I'm just looking forward to going down there and playing at their place."

On the supporter's group pre-game display: "I'm definitely honored to be in that group of players who was honored. I thought there were a lot of good players up there. It was pretty amazing to be a part of that."

Alvaro Fernandez

On the goal: "When I saw the play shaping up I started yelling and calling the play, especially when I saw the two defenders going after Fredy. After the flick I was one on one with the keeper and I was able to finalize."

On if it felt any different going up against a rival in Portland: "It was a derby. I'm lucky that I've had the chance to play many of those in my career. They are sort of similar. Sometimes the teams don't start playing very well, but it's not only about that, it's also about the will and how much you really want it and how much effort you put in it. Thankfully we started ahead, but unfortunately we wound up giving up the lead."

Portland Timbers

John Spencer - Head Coach

On Sounders FC pressing to start the second half: "Obviously they are going to start and go after it. We were ready for it to start the first half but got complacent. I gave them a good positive team talk at halftime. I told them how happy I was with them and the effort they were giving. The good thing we regrouped being a goal down. I felt they were terrified with us during every set piece. They were worried about giving up a goal."

On his impressions of the Timbers' goal: "Jack Jewsbury has been fantastic for us, that is why we brought him here and made him captain. He has lived up to everything and more. Jorge Perlaza has to be given credit. The runs he makes are on par with some of the top strikers of the world. We need to try to get him some more service throughout the match."

On the environment surrounding the match: "It is always great to come up here. Everybody will realize when they leave JELD-WEN that it is more authentic. This environment is more close and connected to the team and the playing field. To be fair it is two great experiences. It is wonderful for MLS soccer to have two great setups first in Portland and second the Seattle Sounders."

On his view of the Seattle goal: "It hit the back of the net. I can't really remember the goal. A couple of times the ball got into the box that we didn't pick up properly. Eric and Hall challenged for the ball but Fernandez was able to find it in the back and finished it well. He is a high quality player. We showed a lot for coming back tonight."

On leaving this match with a tie: "We take a lot of confidence with us. Sigi Schmid has done a tremendous job here and the whole organization is fantastic. They are a good team and we have come up here four months old and played well. We have to start showing that belief we have at home on to the road. I think we showed that tonight."

Troy Perkins

On coming up to Seattle and matching their performance: "We wanted to come on up here and prove we belonged. I think all the guys were committed to do that."

On the goal Seattle scored: "Both defenders went for the same ball, a little bit of a miscommunication. The ball just fell right to him and he made a good play."

On the weather causing any problems during the match: "Typical Northwest weather. A little bit of rain, the field played incredibly fast. Our Field Turf is a little bit different. It doesn't play as fast when it is wet."

Mamadou Danso

On being satisfied with the draw: "We came here for the win. We didn't come here for the tie."

On coming through with a goal: "I'm very excited to get the goal. I have been here for two seasons and I understand the rivalry. We just wanted to win here and it is really an over the top feeling. We have been practicing free kicks all week. The ball was really just a fifty-fifty ball and I was able to make a play on it."

Kenny Cooper

On the importance of getting a draw in Seattle: "I think some teams find it difficult to come on up here and play. They get amazing support and the crowds support them really well. To be down and come back I think we should great character. It was a great point for us."

On the game living up to the hype: "I think this is a game that fans have starting circling their calendars when the schedule comes out. The lead up to the game was a lot fun. As a player you crave to play in these games."