Sounders were able to inch up the table Sunday night in front of a(nother) record setting crowd in Seattle. The fact that it came at the expense of their I-5 rivals, Portland Timbers made it all that much sweeter.
Portland fans, recently made aware of the finer points of MLS player acquisition, had high hopes of coming up and spoiling Clint Dempsey’s home debut in front of 67,000+ fans. Motivation was increased but Timbers were dealing with a short-handed roster, midfield stalwart Diego Chara was suspended with yellow card accumulation and Will Johnson still not fit to play. Seattle alternatively are adding key players back to their lineup with the exception of Obafemi Martins who’s ankle injury suffered in Toronto precluded his involvement in the Cascadia derby.
Although the first half went without a save being recorded for either Donovan Ricketts or Michael Gspurning, there were more than a few good scoring chances for both sides. Gspurning shut down a 1v1 with Ryan Johnson that wasn’t counted as a save and Diego Valeri hit the post on a dead ball that didn’t count as a shot on goal.
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Gspurning could have easily seen his MOTM status disappear had those two opportunities turned out differently. Despite the alternate history version of those two plays Gspurning was solid all night. His Portland counterpart, Donovan ‘Rebound’ Ricketts, was not nearly as dependable.
The match stayed level until after Mauro Rosales came on for Shalrie Joseph in the 56th minute. Rosales, the Sounders captain, hasn’t turned in the season that anyone has expected and failed to put an excellent opportunity in Houston on frame. He found himself on the bench to start the derby.
Portland defender Po Amadou Kah, victimized by a poor clearance on Wednesday that cost his team two points once again provided his opponent a winning opportunity after a foul on Eddie Johnson that earned a caution in the 59th minute. Kah went in airborn with both feet and missed the ball and brought down Johnson halfway between the left touch line and edge of the penalty box. Mauro Rosales demonstrated his skill and worth with the winning assist to Eddie Johnson who redirected the cross with his head to the far post for a goal in front of the Brougham end.
When Timbers were able to create chances they were unable to beat Gspurning, who always seemed to anticpate the proper positioning to make effortless saves in the second half.
Although Dempsey didn’t make his impact felt on the stat sheet, failed to put a shot on goal, suffered four fouls (and at least two more), he did show some quick feet and clever passing. Overall, it seems like he’s still adjusting to his teammates and gaining fitness.