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Sports >  Seattle Sounders

Sounders fail to take advantage of chances and home field in 3-0 defeat to rival Portland Timbers

July 9, 2022 Updated Sat., July 9, 2022 at 5:11 p.m.

By Roshan Fernandez Seattle Times

SEATTLE – It didn’t matter that the Sounders outshot Portland 10-2 in the first half on Saturday afternoon. It didn’t matter that Seattle had nearly 65% of possession either.

Against the run of play, the Timbers scored on one of their only first-half chances. Seattle only made matters more difficult when young center back Jackson Ragen’s slide tackle earned him a second yellow card less than 30 seconds into the second half. His first yellow card came 30 seconds before halftime.

The 10-man Sounders pushed for an equalizer for most of the second half of their biggest rivalry game, but instead fell 3-0 after two more late Portland goals. The scoreline tied the Timbers’ biggest margin of victory over the Sounders.

With the blowout loss, the home team in this matchup has lost 13 of the past 15 meetings. The Timbers have a seven-game unbeaten streak in Seattle (regular season only) that dates back to 2017.

In the week of practice leading up to perhaps the biggest rivalry in Major League Soccer – where either Portland or Seattle has represented the Western Conference in the MLS Cup Final every year since 2015 – the Sounders struggled to explain the home-field disadvantage, of sorts.

“I have no answer for you,” Stefan Frei said. “[If I did], I would be sharing it with everybody and we probably wouldn’t have this dilemma right now.”

Coach Brian Schmetzer said on Friday that the team addressed the home-field situation “pretty heavily” throughout the week to try and counteract that trend.

It didn’t seem to work. Seattle dominated the first half, but the Timbers only needed a brief moment to punish the Sounders, combining passes up the middle of the field to draw Seattle’s center backs out of position before playing a long ball over the top.

Sebastian Blanco had space to deliver a precise cross from the right side, and Jaroslaw Niezgoda created separation from his defender, Yeimar, at the back post. Yeimar and Frei, in goal, could only watch as the Timbers forward headed the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range.

Portland sealed the win by tacking on a penalty kick, courtesy of a Nouhou hand ball, in the 82nd minute and a successful counterattack 3 minutes later as Seattle pushed players forward.

In the first half, the Sounders continuously created chances that seemed more dangerous than the previous ones. None was successful, though. It started when Raul Ruidiaz received the ball and executed a nice turn to create shooting space from the top of the 18-yard box in the sixth minute. His shot sailed over the goal.

But better opportunities began to develop with the Sounders showing patience and dominating possession. They played balls up the flanks, sending left back Nouhou high up the field as well as right back Alex Roldan. Nico Lodeiro laid off a ball to Albert Rusnak near the penalty spot, but his 12th-minute shot was blocked.

Lodeiro has scored 36 career goals for the Sounders, but in 17 career games against Portland heading into Saturday’s matchup, he’d scored just once – a penalty kick in the 2018 playoffs. That drought will continue for the Sounders captain.

In the first half, he had perhaps his best chance to do so when Jordan Morris crossed a ball and Lodeiro flashed across the face of the goal, shooting straight at the goalie. Ragen used his towering, 6-foot-6 frame to head the ensuing corner kick, but a Portland defender cleared the ball off the goal line.

Most of the 47,000 fans at Lumen Field shouted to appeal for a penalty when Lodeiro went down in the box after a sliding challenge from Portland’s defender, but the referee waved it off.

And moments before halftime, Ruidiaz, who didn’t get many touches on the ball during the first frame, had a sure goal when Morris played him a ball just outside the 6-yard box. Instead, his shot crashed off the post.

There was a lot of traffic in front of the net, but Ruidiaz seemed a certain scorer in that situation. He’d notched 10 goals and two assists in 11 career games against Portland before Saturday’s game. Last year, he scored a brace in Seattle’s 6-2 win at the Timbers, including a thunderous free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box.

Ruidiaz made his return from a hamstring injury on Saturday after missing almost a month. But the striker couldn’t find the back of the net.

After the break, the search for an equalizing goal became all the more challenging when Ragen decided to slide tackle for the ball, but caught a Portland player instead. His first yellow card came when he elbowed a player in the head going for an aerial challenge.

The Sounders were reduced to 10 players and continued to threaten at the start of the second half. Eventually, though, the floodgates opened late in the match, and the home-field disadvantage continued for the Sounders.

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