On a pleasant summer evening at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers were filling the Cascadia Cup match Sunday with enough shot-on-target action to frequently rouse the 53,302 folks in attendance. But each team struggled early to convert those chances into goals.
That was until Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan was knocked to the pitch by Timbers defender Vytautas Andriuskevicius in the 61st minute, and Clint Dempsey loomed over the ensuing penalty kick.
He buried it. And Dempsey knocked in another goal 18 minutes later. And Roldan followed three minutes later with a goal of his own, a header in the 83rd minute off assists from Nicolas Lodeiro and Brad Evans on a corner that added a dominant hue to Seattle’s 3-1 victory over the Portland Timbers, its fiercest rival.
Portland’s lone goal came in stoppage time, a meaningless score by Fanendo Adi in the 93rd minute.
“We’re circulating the ball well,” said Dempsey, who finished the game by kicking the ball into the crowd and offering what appeared to be a throat-slash gesture to the Timbers’ fan section. “People are getting good looks. It’s not just one person. ... Having opportunities and getting the right results, that’s when you’re having your most fun, and that’s kind of the run we’re on right now.”
Seattle (9-12-3) is now unbeaten in four matches since the dismissal of former coach Sigi Schmid and the promotion of Brian Schmetzer to the interim position. Sunday’s victory pulled Seattle into a tie with Vancouver for eighth place in the Western Conference standings, just two points behind Portland (8-10-8) for the final playoff spot.
The Sounders next travel to Houston for a Wednesday night match against the last-place Dynamo.
“Any coaching change, whether it was me or not, the team is going to get a little bump,” Schmetzer said. “And so when you have a committed group of players, that are committed to each other and committed to winning … they understand, they can do the math, they read some of the stories that are out there that maybe the Sounders aren’t going to make the playoffs this year — that’s a proud team, and their response has been tremendous.”
Dempsey first blasted a clean penalty kick past Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson, atoning for the chance he missed in the 52nd minute — a miss wide left. Dempsey followed with a left-footed make in the 80th minute from just outside the box.