SEATTLE – Eddie Johnson scored yet again against Seattle’s fiercest rival. Obafemi Martins traveled halfway across the world to make his Seattle debut and received a huge ovation when he finally stepped on the field.
All was right for the Sounders, until they forgot to defend Portland’s Rodney Wallace cutting wide open through the penalty box.
“I got in the right spot, the ball came and I finished,” Wallace said. “It’s a huge win for everybody involved with the Portland Timbers. … A point coming back means a lot.”
Wallace came open in the box and headed in the tying goal at the beginning of second-half stoppage time, and the Timbers came out of Seattle with a 1-1 draw against the rival Sounders on Saturday night.
Johnson’s first-half goal had given Seattle an advantage it held until Wallace scored right at the end of the 90 minutes as stoppage time was beginning.
Seattle failed to clear the ball from danger and Andrew Jean-Baptiste’s centering pass found Wallace completely uncovered. Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning had no chance at stopping the perfectly placed header.
“The ball came at the right time and I was in the right spot for it,” Wallace said.
The matchup of the Cascadia foes was the centerpiece of what Major League Soccer dubbed “Rivalry Week.”
And it was Portland getting an important draw in the competition between the Sounders, Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps for the Cascadia Cup.
It was a crucial point to salvage for Portland after getting just one point out of two home matches to begin the regular season.
“Not only did we get a point, but they lost two points at the end of the game,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “That gives us a lot of belief moving forward.”
For most of the night, Seattle was in place for a second important victory this week.
Johnson’s goal in the 13th minute was his second this week after he scored the series winner in Seattle’s 3-2 aggregate victory over Tigres in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
It was one of the easier goals Johnson has scored in his time with Seattle, mostly because the pass from Steve Zakuani was perfect. Zakuani collected a sloppy midfield turnover from Diego Chara and quickly raced toward the Portland net.
His left-footed pass was perfectly placed out of the reach of Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and directly onto the foot of Johnson, who was making a late run behind the defense.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said after the game that Johnson would be called in to join the U.S. national team for its World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica next week.
But his goal, and the debut of Martins, the Sounders new designated player, was overshadowed by the late defensive breakdown that allowed Wallace to score his first goal of the season.
Portland has two draws in three matches played in Seattle since the Timbers joined the MLS in 2011.
“You have to close games out. It hurts. It would be a much better feeling waking up tomorrow with three points,” Zakuani said.
Seattle was trying to take the lead in the Cascadia Cup competition that Portland won a year ago.
As if Seattle needed any reminders, the large contingent of Timbers fans that made the three-hour trip up Interstate 5 brought with them a banner reading “Cascadia Champions 2012.”
Portland easily could have come out of Seattle with a victory if referee Kevin Stott had awarded a penalty kick midway through the first half. Portland’s Ryan Johnson was tackled by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the penalty box. Although Hurtado got the ball, he also took down Johnson.