Dempsey leads Sounders to 3-1 win over Timbers
Sun., Aug. 21, 2016
SEATTLE – On a pleasant summer evening at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers were filling Sunday’s Cascadia Cup match with enough shot-on-target action to frequently rouse the 53,302 folks in attendance. But each team struggled early to convert those chances into goals.
That was until Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan was knocked to the pitch by Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius in the 61st minute, and Clint Dempsey loomed over the ensuing penalty kick.
He buried it. And he knocked in another goal 18 minutes later. And Roldan followed three minutes later with a goal of his own, a header in the 83rd minute off assists from Nicolas Lodeiro and Brad Evans on a corner that added a dominant hue to Seattle’s 3-1 victory over its fiercest rival.
Portland’s lone goal came in stoppage time, a meaningless score by Fanendo Adi in the 93rd minute.
“We’re circulating the ball well,” said Dempsey, who finished the game by kicking the ball into the crowd and offering what appeared to be a throat-slash gesture to the Timbers fan section. “People are getting good looks. It’s not just one person. I feel like everybody’s getting good looks. When you’re doing that, creating good chances, having opportunities and getting the right results, that’s when you’re having your most fun, and that’s kind of the run we’re on right now.”
Seattle (9-12-3) is now unbeaten in four matches since the dismissal of former coach Sigi Schmid and the promotion of Brian Schmetzer to the interim position. Sunday’s victory pulled Seattle into a tie with Vancouver for eighth place in the Western Conference standings, just two points behind Portland (8-10-8) for the final playoff spot.
The Sounders next travel to Houston for a Wednesday night match against the last-place Dynamo.
“Any coaching change, whether it was me or not, the team is going to get a little bump,” Schmetzer said. “And so when you have a committed group of players, that are committed to each other and committed to winning … they understand, they can do the math, they read some of the stories that are out there that maybe the Sounders aren’t going to make the playoffs this year – that’s a proud team, and their response has been tremendous.”
Dempsey first blasted a clean penalty kick past Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson, atoning for the sterling chance he missed in the 52nd minute – a miss wide left after a perfect setup from Jordan Morris – and he followed with a left-footed make in the 80th minute from just outside the box.
A harrowing save by Sounders keeper Stefan Frei on a close header by Timbers forward Jack McInerney in the 71st minute “changed the game completely,” Schmetzer said.
“That save was a massive turning point in the game,” Schmetzer said. “1-1 is miles different than us getting a little bit of a hold of the game.”
Convincing as Dempsey’s second strike may have been, Roldan added to what was already an outstanding individual performance by heading in a corner kick booted by Lodeiro and deflected by Evans. And he nearly assisted on a fourth Seattle goal, a late give to Morris that just missed off the right side of the net.
“Right place, right time” Roldan said, adding that he was picking for teammate Chad Marshall and that Portland was likely more focused on him. “I was in the right spot, and I was able to get a head on it.”
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