Seattle Sounders back on track with derby win

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Seattle Sounders FC hit back in the Major League Soccer title race with their third triumph over Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers this year.

Responding to DC United’s head-turning win at Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders netted with an Obafemi Martins’ brace, Clint Dempsey and Chad Barrett in a 4-2 victory at Providence Park. Fanendo Adi’s own double counted for little as Sigi Schmid’s Washingtonians clinched their first road success in almost two months.

The Timbers had already conceded four earlier in the campaign when they threw away a two-goal lead to draw at home, and had slipped up in the Emerald City in league and cup.

Fast start

Proceedings got underway in typically hectic fashion, and the first effort almost led to a first goal in the 11th minute. Diego Valeri’s free-kick skipped up off the dangling leg of Marca Pappa, beating Stefan Frei, but rattling the cross-bar.

Moments later, the Rave Green tested the woodwork at the other end with Dempsey. Obafemi Martins passed inside from the left to his strike-partner, who controlled and turned in one smooth movement, and curled against the upright with the ball bouncing to safety.

Deadlock broken

However, when Seattle attacked once more, they broke the deadlock. Captain Brad Evans played a neat one-two with DeAndre Yedlin and sprinted beyond Liam Ridgewell, whose former Birmingham City teammate Martins was in the middle to convert a drilled centre. This was the Nigerian’s ninth strike of the season, though his first since the start of June and a maiden derby notch.

Dempsey should have quickly added to the lead when he fired over, before Portland belatedly threatened again, as Frei clutched Darlington Nagbe’s blast at the second attempt. Valeri and Norberto Paparatto both then had significant attempts deflected away from the target, but a breakaway allowed the visitors to pull further away from their Pacific Northwest neighbours.

Martins carried the ball over the halfway-line after a corner had been cleared, and fed Dempsey to bundle past Donovan Ricketts and delight a raucous away end. The 31-year-old’s fifth goal against the Rose City outfit now makes him the club’s record marksman in this rivalry.

The hosts continued to look for a route back into the match, though an unkind ricochet and Frei’s alert palm denied Gaston Fernandez, while referee Baldomero Toledo was unmoved by a suspicion of handball by Chad Marshall inside the penalty area.

Only Ricketts’ intervention prevented Dempsey increasing his tally before the interval, and Frei was equally impressive in repelling Will Johnson afterwards.

Second half scrap

But as the bookings piled up, the second period descended into a scrap, and Caleb Porter’s men struggled as they had in the first half’s footballing contest. With this in mind, it was no surprise when a rare outbreak of nice play was rewarded with a third goal for the Sounders. Moving the ball from right to left, Barrett took possession and powered through Ricketts for his third in nine days.

Two Portland substitutes were to instantly have an impact of their own, however. Rod Wallace swung a magnificent cross in from the touch-line, and Adi extended a leg to volley beyond Frei and seemingly bring his side back into the game.

The Timbers Army fired up their chainsaws, but their optimism was short-lived with Martins’ sublime second to follow. Dancing through numerous challenges, the 29-year-old kept his head and calmly finished over the helpless Ricketts.

Steve Zakuani came close against his former club with a low fizz, then assisted Adi, who ruthlessly lashed into the roof of the net, though there was no time remaining to further improve the score-line.

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Portland Timbers
MLS Western Conference
Seattle Sounders FC

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