By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
PORTLAND, Ore. — Sounders FC didn’t see its 1-1 draw with archrival Portland on Saturday as kissing your sister or any of those other cliches.
The Sounders considered it a fair result that lets them live to fight for trophies another day.
“We didn’t want our fans to drive home on a bus empty handed,” midfielder Steve Zakuani said. “We still have to play Portland (Oct. 7) in Seattle, and that’s going to be a very, very important game — as all games are at this point. (The Timbers) said the Cascadia Cup is the most important thing for them. It isn’t for us: It’s MLS Cup. But on the way to winning MLS Cup we want to win Cascadia Cup.”
Portland could have clinched that symbol of Northwest bragging rights with a win. Instead, the Cup remains up for grabs: Portland leading at 2-0-2, Seattle second at 1-1-2, and Vancouver bringing up the rear at 0-2-2, with two games remaining for each club.
“At the end of the day, I think 1-1 was a fair result,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “For our team, it’s good that we were able to secure a point from the standpoint of Cascadia Cup. That’s still all open for us now, so that’s good.”
The Sounders (13-6-9) jumped ahead in the 57th minute, when Fredy Montero greeted reserve goalkeeper Joseph Bendik with a shot over his head and into the net.
Bendik had come into the game just seconds earlier, after Donovan Ricketts left after a collision with Seattle forward Eddie Johnson.
“He didn’t have time for warming up,” Montero said. “You just say, ‘OK, let’s try to hit the ball and see what happens.’ And for us it was good the first one was to the goal.”
That was especially good news for Seattle, which came into the match with a 12-0-2 record when scoring first.
However, Portland (7-14-7) struck back in the 78th minute, when Jack Jewsbury knocked a corner kick in front of the goal, where Rodney Wallace headed it down, and the ball trickled across the goal line before the Sounders could clear it.
“The goal was unlucky,” goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “It’s not that they don’t deserve it at this point of the game, because they put the pressure on us. But the goal was a little bit lucky because … we were a little bit disorganized in this case and we reacted too late. Then (defender Leo Gonzalez tried) to clear, and I am also there, and maybe if Leo doesn’t clear it I can push it away from the line. He wants to clear, I want to clear, and it ended up in the goal.”
Both teams had chances after that. Portland’s Bright Dike sent a shot off the near post in stoppage time, and then Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso hit a low sizzler that Bendik smothered.
“I think it’s good to see us come back, especially in a huge game like that,” Jewsbury said. “Obviously, a bit disappointed, because we wanted to raise the trophy in front of the home fans. But now, we got a little bit more work to do.”
If the draw didn’t fully satisfy the sellout crowd of 20,438 at Jeld-Wen Field, Schmid thought it provided an appealing introduction to Major League Soccer for any new fans turning in on NBC for the league’s first network broadcast since 2008.
“It’s intense. It’s competitive. The atmosphere was tremendous,” Schmid said. “… It’s got its physical elements to it. It’s got its skillful elements — when you look at the goal Montero scores, and some of the individual play of other players. So, I think it had everything. We always complain about not enough goals, but it’s really about goal-scoring chances. The drama was there with them hitting the post at the end, with us having a very good chance from Ozzie at the end. It had all the elements of what a good sporting event should be.”