Seattle, formerly a fierce foe of Portland in the NASL as well as more recently in the A-League and United Soccer Leagues (USL), topped the Timbers, 2-1, at PGE Park in Portland with goals by Sebastian LeToux and Stephen King before a sellout crowd of 16,382. Mandjou Keita's goal for Portland just before halftime reduced the deficit but the Sounders fended off numerous attacks in the second half to earn the victory.
Portland will join MLS in 2011 and a major factor in the league approving its application was to foster rivalries like this one. The Timbers offered 400 standing-room tickets to accommodate fan demand and two buses and hundreds of cars ferried Sounders supporters to Portland. Those who didn't arrive in time for kickoff probably missed the first goal.
Sanna Nyassi and King worked a one-two on the right flank in the first minute to set up a cross by Nyassi that Levesque drilled past goalie Steve Cronin and into the net with a diving header. King struck from the edge of the penalty area in the 27th minute, hammering a ball played back by Nate Jaqua to double Seattle's lead.
Keita volleyed a ball from David Hayes to get Portland on the board in the 43rd minute and crank up a few notches tensions and tempers that boiled over several times in the second half.
A tight offside call negated an apparent goal by Jaqua in the 53rd minute, Nyassi went into the book for a hard foul six minutes later, and two minutes after that Tony McManus took a caution for chopping down LeToux.
After Fredy Montero replaced LeToux, Nyassi drilled a cross that ricocheted off two Timbers toward the goal before Cronin smothered it. Another confrontation a few minutes later resulted when Nyassi stumbled going for a cross and stayed down as Cronin shouted at him to get up and objects thrown from the crowd landed near Nyassi.
Seattle controlled the match in the final quarter of an hour to send most of the fans home disappointed.
According to the Timbers' Web site, this was the 60th meeting between the teams since they first faced off in 1975. The next one can't come soon enough.
Portland (USL-1) 1, Seattle (MLS) 2
Goals: Keita (Hayes) 43; Levesque (Nyassi, King) 1, King (Jaqua) 27.
Portland - Cronin, Hayes, Knowles, Keel (Danso, 90), Thompson, Farber, Klaesson, Savage (McManus, 46), Suzuki, Keita, Josten (Nimo, 80).
Seattle - Keller, Riley, Hurtado, Ianni, Sturgis, Nyassi (Smith, 79), Vagenas, King, Levesque (Wahl, n/a), LeToux (Montero, 66), Jaqua.