Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- Despite coming into the match with three losses in their last five league matches, the Seattle Sounders made a statement Sunday afternoon as they trounced the Portland Timbers in front of 20,814 at Providence Park.
Led by the lethal combination of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, Seattle tore its way through Portland’s back line in the 4-2 victory over Portland. Martins led the way with two goals with Clint Dempsey and substitute Chad Barrett also scoring. Fanendo Adi scored twice late for Portland.
The match could prove huge for the Sounders as they try to prove that last season’s late swoon is not going to happen again in 2014.
“Our team went out there with an attitude, we wanted to make a statement,” Schmid said. “We wanted to make this a statement game. This is not last year, this is not deja vu.”
Martins saved his best moves for Seattle’s final goal, when the Nigerian DP maneuvered his way around four Portland defenders before finding himself alone on goal. He easily slotted the ball around Donovan Ricketts before celebrating with his teammates in front of the traveling Sounders supporters section. The goal was the final dagger in Seattle’s dismantling of the Timbers defense.
The last tally ended a three-goal-in-six-minute stretch that started in the 70th minute when an unmarked Chad Barrett rocketed a shot past a helpless Ricketts to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. Substitue Fanendo Adi answered minutes later and scored when he fired home a Rodney Wallace cross. Adi added his second goal of the match in stoppage time, but it was much too late for the Timbers.
Adi’s goals had little effect on the Sounders romp. Seattle went into the halftime locker room with a two-goal advantage due to a fantastic individual effort by Dempsey. The American international beat Michael Harrington in a full-field footrace and Martins found him just in time to beat an onrushing Ricketts. The goal was Dempsey’s club-leading 10th of the season and set a tone for the rest of his teammates.
“If you go back and watch Clint’s run, that’s just pure determination, heart, and grit. That’s what we want from all of our players,” Sounders captain Brad Evans said. “He booked it there. I think we all looked at that and said holy (bleep), what a run. I think the guys feed off of that. When everybody puts in that little bit extra, things tend to go your way.”
That goal continued a hot run-of-form for Dempsey against Portland this season. He finishes the three-game regular season series against the Timbers with five goals scored and an assist to go along with two victories and a draw.
“When you play against rivals, you want to step up in those type of games,” Dempsey said. “It’s good to play against your rivals.”
Multiple Seattle goals came on the counterattack as the Sounders sliced their way through the Portland defense. That was part of the game plan, according to Schmid.
“We knew we were going to get counter opportunities, that was something we were planning for. Obviously, they kept the pressure on in the second half, again, because they were a desperate team,” Schmid said.
Martins opened the scoring inside 19 minutes when he put the finishing touch on a 14-pass sequence that included Evans racing his way past Liam Ridgewell before crossing the ball to the feet of Martins. The MLS all-star finished the match with two goals and an assist.
“Not only does he score goals, he creates opportunities for others. I thought he played really well today,” Dempsey said.
Since the two teams first met in the NASL in 1975 , the Sounders had never scored four goals in Portland in a league match prior to this season. And now they have accomplished that feat twice in 2014. Even Evans didn’t imagine the dominant scoreline in Sunday’s match.
“It was one of those where you go to sleep last night and you don’t expect to win a game here 4-2,” Evans said. “We came out and finished our chances, it was just a good performance.”
Despite firing 21 shots and outpossessing Seattle for the match, even Caleb Porter knew Portland didn’t deserve a result.
“At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the score and the result. We didn’t do well enough to get the result,” Porter said.
With the victory, the Sounders (14-7-3, 45 points) move out of a first-place tie with Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas and into sole possession of the Western Conference lead. Meanwhile, Portland (7-8-10, 31 points) is still on the outside looking in as they sit in sixth place in the Western Conference. The loss officially eliminates Portland from the Cascadia Cup race with Seattle and Vancouver left to battle it out for the trophy.
Here are the match highlights: