SEATTLE – Larrys Mabalia wasn’t around for any of the seven games the Portland Timbers lost at Seattle since 2011.
But he was there Saturday to help them beat their rival on the road for the very first time.
Mabiala scored off of two corner kicks, the second of them the winner in the 74th minute, in Portland’s 3-2 victory over the Sounders.
Samuel Armenteros also scored, and Diego Valeri assisted on all three goals to help the Timbers (7-3-5) extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3). That is the longest unbeaten run in MLS this season. Portland’s last loss was at Orlando on April 8.
Since joining MLS in 2011, the Timbers had gone 0-7-3 on Seattle’s home turf. Mabiala came aboard in July 2017, and Portland’s only visit to the city since then was a 1-1 tie last Aug. 27.
“We’re very happy about that,” he said about Saturday’s win, “but the goal is still the same: Take all the games one by one. It feels great, especially to score in the derby like that where everybody was so excited to play.”
Mabiala put Portland up 1-0 in the 48th minute when he headed in Valeri’s corner kick that came from the attacking right side. His winning goal also was on a corner from the right. Mabiala has four goals for the year.
It wasn’t lost on Mabiala that both of his goals were off set pieces.
“Mostly, it’s because I’ve started to understand the way Diego shoots his corners,” he said. “Before, I used to make the same run. But now, I change a little bit more. We have many systems on corner kicks. Obviously, today it worked, and I hope it’s going to be the same for the next game.”
Armenteros scored in the 57th minute on a long through ball from Valeri. That was his fourth goal of the year.
First-year Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese was aware this his team had never won in Seattle, but that was not foremost in his mind.
“For me, the most important part was the three points,” he said. “We were able to do it on a difficult field. There was not a moment of doubt that the guys were going to find a solution and go forward and score because that was the belief of all the guys. And then Mabalia was very strong. To be the marshal is not easy. He was able to do it, and it was very important for us.”
The Sounders (3-9-3) came from behind twice to tie it.
Victor Rodriguez made it 1-1 when he ran onto a cross from Nicolas Lodeiro and headed it past goalkeeper Jeff Attinella in the 60th minute for his first of the year. In the 68th, Chad Marshall made it 2-2 when he headed in Lodeiro’s corner kick for his first.
“This is a really tough loss. This is going to sting for a long time,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, whose team continues to languish way out of the playoff picture. “Our current state of affairs is not good – we have to be realistic. We’ve really put ourselves in a hole.
“We’re not going to give up,” Schmetzer added. “We’re going to keep trying to train well and see if we can start winning a couple of games to make the gap smaller.”
The Sounders were without regular goalkeeper Stefan Frei. He took a blow to the side of the head in a collision with Chicago’s Alan Gordon in the final moments of last Saturday’s 1-1 tie in Seattle and remains in concussion protocol.
Bryan Meredith stepped into the net for his first MLS regular-season match since July 15, 2012, when he went all 90 minutes for Seattle in a 2-2 road tie against the New York Red Bulls.
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