Do you know why all the trees in Washington state lean south?
Seattle won the Cascadia Cup, a three-team tournament between Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, last year. That was the first year that all three teams were reunited in the MLS since Seattle led the way into the MLS.
Every kind of competition between Seattle and Portland, from basketball—screw you Clay Bennett, I hope you choke—to tiddly winks, brings out the natural rivalry that has raged since the Native Americans were swapping fish stories.
Portland has been sucking the bottom of the Western Conference this season, getting knocked out of the U.S. Cup by the amateur side CalFC on their own home field. With the U.S. Cup and the MLS Cup basically out of their grasp, the Cascadia Cup is about all they can hope for to salvage their season.
Seattle had to be careful yesterday (June 24), being the three-time running U.S. Cup Champions and having their next match on Tuesday (June 26). Portland could come out and play their usual thuggish style with abandon. And that is exactly what they did on Sunday, with hard play, cheap shots and muggings galore to the chants of “No Pity” by their fans.
The aggressive start went well for Portland. The Timbers threatened early, assisted by the recent Sounders defensive woes. Two near misses in the first 10 minutes should have woken up the defensive backline. But you couldn’t tell when Portland scored in the 16th minute on a cross from Steve Smith to former Scottish star striker Kris Boyd, who looked at least a yard offside to me, easily getting the ball past Sounders keeper Andrew Weber.
Portland followed that quickly on a corner kick by Franck Songo’o. He looped the ball into the box nicely to David Horst. He had hit the post on an early corner but this time split Weber and a Sounders defender to put the Timbers up 2-0.
Seattle started to find their flow about 10 minutes before halftime as Jeff Parke had to come off after another cheap shot put him down on the grass. Patrick Ianni, who scored that marvelous goal against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, immediately stamped some authority into the back line, scuffling with Portland enforcer Jack Jewsbury and then Boyd before play could start again.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Seattle’s Eddie Johnson finally turned chances into a goal, hitting a great shot from the corner of the box that left Portland keeper Troy Perkins grasping for air.
Seattle continued to put the pressure on, dialing it up more and more as Portland couldn’t keep possession past the middle of the field. It looked like they couldn’t decide whether to sit on their lead and waste time or to try and counter attack. So instead of making a decision, a near brawl broke out. The pushing ended with Fredy Montero and Lovel Palmer getting ejected.
Montero pushed a much larger Horst, who flopped better than Vlade Divac. The shove was worthy of a yellow card but Montero had been doing a lot of talking and griping to Ricardo Salazar, a referee who could charitably be called inconsistent. The previous conversations probably helped Salazar find the red card for Montero. Palmer came into the melee with a flying elbow into the back of Johnson’s head.
The discipline, or lack thereof, of the Portland Timbers didn’t hurt them in the end, although it should have. They finished the match with a 2-1 win to get all three points and take them out of the basement in the West.
It also puts them ahead of Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup competition. The way this match ended, it will be very interesting when the two teams meet again.
Seattle’s winless streak runs to a team record seven games going into a U.S. Open Cup match on Tuesday against San Jose. For the MLS, Seattle takes to the road to play New England on June 30.
Oh, and the trees in Washington lean south because Oregon sucks!
Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Timbers