TUKWILA — The Seattle Sounders erupted for a pair of goals in extra time Wednesday, taking a 3-1 win over archrival Portland in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Seattle had seemed bound for victory in regulation before Portland’s Darlington Nagbe equalized in the final seconds.
That largely silenced a majority of the 4,233 at Starfire Sports Stadium, while igniting a section of visiting Timbers supporters relegated to a corner of the pitch.
“It was obviously disappointing, because we thought we could win it in regulation,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “It meant we had to work extra, but I told the guys, ‘So, we have to do it the hard way, we’ll do it the hard way.’ That’s just the way it turned out tonight. We’re happy.”
About nine minutes into extra time, Portland’s Diego Chara was given a straight red card for a scissors tackle on Marco Pappa, and the Timbers had to play out the extra period one man down.
Schmid didn’t like the way the Sounders reacted in their early minutes with the advantage. But they broke ahead in the 110th minute on a header by Kenny Cooper.
“Great ball by (Gonzalo) Pineda,” Cooper said. “He put it right on my head. That’s what he’s capable of doing, picking us out like that.”
Five minutes later, Pappa put the Timbers away with an unassisted goal.
The result sends the three-time champion Sounders through to the semifinal round, where they will face the Chicago Fire, which beat the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks on Wednesday. The semifinal will be played Aug. 13 at Starfire.
The Sounders and Timbers both went with plenty of first-choice players, including the return of U.S. national team member DeAndre Yedlin for the Sounders.
“He said he felt fine,” Schmid said. “He’s still 20 years old — or 21 now — and we felt he’s a guy who could play tonight and turn it around for (our next game). … I thought he played well. I thought he was very sharp, especially in the first half. He made some good runs forward.”
Still, both teams came out struggling to find rhythm on the small, fast Starfire pitch.
Seattle took the lead in the 69th minute with midfielder Osvaldo Alonso finishing after a combination of passes. The sequence began with a Brad Evans back-heel pass to Lamar Neagle, who sent in a cross to the back post. Alonso raised his leg hig, and knocked the ball into the top corner, just past lunging goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Portland began pushing forward aggressively after that, with Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei stubbornly keeping them off the board with a series of acrobatic saves.
However, late into stoppage time, Nagbe worked a give-and-go with former Sounder Steve Zakuani, with Nagbe sending his shot inside the far post.
That evened the score at 1-1, and a few second later the game headed into 30 minutes of extra time.
“I didn’t see any heads put down,” Cooper said. “When we got together Sigi instilled a lot of confidence in us. No one put their head down, so we kept battling and came away with the win, which was great.”
The Sounders and Timbers will meet again at 7 p.m. Sunday in a Major League Soccer match at fully opened CenturyLink Field. The Sounders announced Wednesday that ticket sales have passed the 60,000 mark.
Schmid said that U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey will return to the club on Thursday and is expected to play Sunday. Schmid also said Obafemi Martins’ hamstring injury is improving and he also could be available for the rematch with the rival Timbers.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt