The Sounders clung to a fourth-minute goal by Christian Roldan to edge the Portland Timbers 1-0 at CenturyLink Field yesterday.
The Timbers matched the Sounders 86% passing accuracy, despite attempting 46 more passes and maintaining possession for 52.1%. Portland out-shot Seattle 19-8, forcing Sounders keeper Stefan Frei to make four saves.
The Sounders defense held, however, working hard to keep Portland’s dangerous attackers from penetrating the backfield and getting clean shots on goal from short range.
Roldan scored on a head flick from Chad Marshall, who redirected a corner kick from Nicolas Lodeiro to get the match started. Things got tense in the second half, when the Timbers thought they had a case for a handball when a shot by Darlington Nagbe appeared to ricochet off of Marshall’s arm. The referees let it go, however, and the Sounders avoided a potentially disappointing result.
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The three points the Sounders earned at home put them at 4-5-4 and 16 points, good for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Seattle fended off another close call when Portland defender Liam Ridgewell found himself free on a corner kick. Fortunately for Seattle, Ridgewell couldn’t control the feed and missed the open look at the goal just after halftime.
Seattle will hit the road again for a Wednesday night match against the Columbus Crew. With another home win, Seattle continues its climb out of an early-season hole. Losses to Chicago and Sporting KC have been somewhat mitigated with home wins over Real Salt Lake and now their fierce rivals to the South.
The Timbers’ loss didn’t stop Portland coach Caleb Porter from insisting his squad was the better team on the field, and added a bit of gamesmanship to the rivalry.