Timbers 2, Sounders 1: Portland reclaim Cascadia Cup

by Charlie Folkestad
Sebastian Blanco with his first Cascadia Cup since joining the Timbers in 2017.

It took some guts and a whole lot of nerves, but the Portland Timbers clinched the Cascadia Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders Friday night. This is portland’s first Cascadia Cup since 2017, and it had been held by the Sounders ever since.

Let’s get right into it. This match stuck out for so many reasons.

TA vs FO…again

Firstly, there’s the ongoing conflict between the Portland Timbers Front Office and its own fans. Whether or not you paid any attention to some Timbers Army Twitter drama this week, just know the tensions have never been higher following yet another report of foul play amongst Portland’s higher-ups.

The Timbers Army made it clear that they would not stop vocally and visually supporting Timbers players anytime soon, though. Another legendary tifo kicked off a heated match between North American soccer’s most bitter rivals.

 

The Match

Opposite of the typical game structure between Portland and Seattle, the Timbers controlled the run of play for the entire first half. Also opposite of the Cascadia norm was Seattle nabbing an early goal (a header from Yeimar) before sitting back to absorb pressure and send the ball long.

The Timbers’ offensive efforts (65% possession, 9 shots, 3 on target) did not go unrewarded, though; Eryk Williamson was taken down in the box in the 40th minute before Dairon Asprilla buried the penalty in the 41st.

Speaking of Asprilla, the Timbers switched things up; starting Asprilla instead of Jaroslaw Niezgoda, Zac McGraw instead of Larrys Mabiala in a back-three/five, and no Josecarlos Van Rankin at right back.

It was a series of bold moves by Gio Savarese, and they paid off.

Although Seattle came out of the halftime break on the front foot, Portland nabbed the go-ahead goal in the 51st minute via a Williamson free kick, Asprilla assist, and Sebastian Blanco finish.

Portland continued to press after taking the lead, but Seattle gained momentum with their substitutions (making three before Portland’s first).

The Timbers did not help themselves in closing out the match, squandering every chance they took. But as Raul Ruidiaz’ shot from distance sizzled wide in the eighth minute of added time, Portland had held on for a victory.

A tale of two tapes

This match was far from the top-of-the-table joust between LAFC and Austin FC which comprised the first half of ESPN’s doubleheader. Gareth Bale and Jordan Morris are very different players.

Once the match kicked off, it was an old-school MLS classic. The touches were sloppier and emotions ruled the game.

The Timbers and Sounders traded blows, and referee Ismail Elfath did not calm things down at all. In short, it was a classic Cascadia match.

And you know what? That’s ok!

Sam Stejskal, whom I respect very much, published an article this week outlining why MLS needs less parity (in short, more parity equates to a larger national audience). I’m oversimplifying his piece, which you should read, but it opened up a larger conversation about parity versus big-name clubs.

I’ll keep my point short: It’s an extreme example, but this game was the best defense you’ll find of parity.

Oh right, the standings!

This match was absolutely crucial for Portland. As I type this, they sit at seventh in the West.

Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

But no matter what happens during the rest of this season, Timbers fans will always have this. A double over Seattle, especially after they won the Concacaf Champions League, is priceless.

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