In the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup, the Portland Timbers newly signed forward Brian Fernandez etched his name into the storied Portland-Seattle soccer rivalry, and it took him only just six minutes.
Two goals by Fernandez were the difference in the Timbers 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders in Tacoma on Wednesday night as the Sounders took to the Cheney Stadium grass for the very first time.
Portland opened up the scoring in the sixth minute with a goal by Fernandez, his fifth on the season.
Signed on May 6, Fernandez made his impact on the game early and often by applying pressure on the Sounders defense.
In just four games on the squad, the Argentinian has scored six goals and quickly is becoming one of the more potent scoring threats in all of MLS.
“He’s (Fernandez) a good goal scorer,” Sounders midfielder Harry Shipp said. “You saw on the second goal, the way he made the run in front of our center back and on first goal he was opportunistic and had a good finish. He lulls you to sleep and makes you forget about him and all the sudden he’s popping up in the right places and scoring goals. This was our first look at him playing against him in person, he’s a good player.”
Both teams were entering the game a little depleted due to the international break: Seattle was missing 10 players while Portland was without two of their first team players.
Seattle remained on the attack for a majority of the first half with six corners and controlled the possession but could not get the equalizing goal until just before halftime thanks to a Victor Rodriguez goal in the 44th minute to tie it at 1.
Portland’s Fernandez again was in the right place at the right time for the Timbers early on in the second half.
Entering the 50th minute, in a 2-on-1 situation against Sounders goalkeeper Brian Meredith, Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse streaked down the sidelines and found Fernandez on the other side and Fernandez scored his second goal, silencing the near capacity crowd of 6,280.
Seattle had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the 78th minute. A Portland handball on Larrys Mabiala in the penalty box led to a Victor Rodriguez penalty attempt. The shot by Rodriguez went hot off his foot and fired off the middle of the crossbar and bounced out.
That was as close as Seattle came to tying the game up.
“I want to say sorry to all my teammates for the PK,” Rodriguez said. “But the most important thing is the effort. You can be more effective but the effort and I have to thank the team today for the effort.”
The loss marks the team’s fourth straight loss but while Wednesday’s loss to Portland doesn’t count against them in the MLS standings they do find themselves out of the U.S. Open Cup in the fourth round for the second straight season in a row. Since entering MLS, the Sounders now have a 3-2-1 record against the Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup, both losses to Seattle have come with Seattle being designated as the home team.
The Sounders face Cascadia rival the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 29 at CenturyLink Field at 7 p.m.