The first instance of stoppage time saw the Portland Timbers nearly finish off the Seattle Sounders in a matter of minutes. The second saw the Sounders make their ancient rivals pay for not finishing the job.
Clint Dempsey’s header in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Seattle the equalizer it needed, as the Sounders (5-6-7, 21 points) held the Timbers (7-4-7, 25 points) at bay despite playing the entire second half with 10 men, earning a precious point with a 2-2 draw against Portland on Sunday night at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
The match was originally scheduled to be played in the late afternoon, but with the Pacific Northwest in the midst of an extreme heat wave, the rivals agreed to push the kickoff back to 7 p.m. Pacific to give their players a safer environment. Despite that decision, temperatures still pushed close to 90 degrees, leading to scheduled hydration breaks in both the first and second halves for both the Timbers and the Seattle Sounders.
Through most of the first half, the visiting Sounders held the edge, taking advantage of a Portland defensive lapse in the 27th minute when Joevin Jones pushed into the Timbers’ back line and put a shot on goal that bounced Portland keeper Jake Gleeson and came right back to Jones, who buried the rebound for a quick Seattle lead.
But in a span of four minutes, a comfortable match turned into a nightmare for the Sounders.
In the 44th minute, Seattle defender Brad Evans missed his attempt on the ball and pulled down Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe, earning an obvious penalty for the Timbers. However, referee Ricardo Salazar then further compounded the Sounders’ situation by ruling Evans did not make enough of an attempt on the ball, turning what Seattle thought would be a yellow card into a straight red and automatic ejection.
With Evans gone and the Seattle Sounders reduced to 10, Portland moved in for the kill, first leveling the match on the resulting penalty from Fanendo Adi and then earning a corner in the third minute of stoppage time for the first half. Without Evans around to defend, nobody picked up Timbers forward Dairon Asparilla, who got his head on the ball cleanly and buried it past Sounders keeper Stefan Frei, sending Portland to the locker room with a 2-1 halftime lead.
But even with the man advantage, the Timbers could not push forward for a game-winner. Frei kept the Sounders in the match long enough for Dempsey to come off the bench and play the hero. In the final seconds, Roman Torres sent in a cross to the center of the penalty area, finding the head of Dempsey, who flicked it past Gleeson to level the match and deny Portland at the death.
The late heroics kept the Seattle Sounders in the thick of a tight Western Conference race. Seattle currently sits in eighth place in the Western Conference, but is just four points behind second place, a mark the Timbers share with FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo.
Readers, were you surprised that the Seattle Sounders stole a draw from the Timbers? How will this result affect both teams moving forward? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell
Photo Courtesy Sounders/Facebook