[MLS: Week 5] Saturday's Portland-Seattle game will not go down as the best played game in MLS history, but it certainly was one of the most entertaining. The 4-4 draw was a frantic affair from beginning to end with three goals in the first quarter of an hour and two goals within two minutes by both teams in the second half.The game for all its faulty defending was an exceptional statement for MLS.
In addition to the eight goals, Portland had two shots hit the woodwork, including one cleared off DeAndre Yedlin's face and off the line, Timbers goalie Andrew Weber was required to make several diving stops, and both teams had numerous near misses. The game produced more shots than fouls, and that's saying a lot as the match produced 38 fouls (and seven yellow cards).
Seattle finished with a 22-19 edge in shots, and Clint Dempsey, who scored two goals in the final five minutes for just the fourth hat trick in Seattle history, had eight shots alone.
Dempsey scored to make it 4-3 in the 85th minute, and seconds laterYedlin burst past sub Ben Zemanski and was taken down in the area for a penalty Dempsey converted.
Goals by Diego Chara and Maximiliano Urruti early in the half gave Portland a 4-2 lead. The Timbers thought they had a fifth goal, but Norberto Paparatto's shot hit the crossbar, bounced off the head of Yedlin, standing in the goal, and came out.
It is hard to say which team's defense was worse. Darlington Nagbe took Yedlin to the cleaners down his left wing until his late exit, Jalil Anibaba, a stand-in for the suspended Djimi Traore, was at fault on both of Portland's second-half goals, but it didn't help that the Sounders' midfield was often missing in action until the late introduction of Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle resulted in a shift in formations.
"We have to eliminate those turnovers in bad parts of the field," said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, "so we don’t give away opportunities like that. When you score four on the road, you should come away with a win, but I’m sure they feel when you score four at home, you should have a win as well.”
On the Portland side, Paparatto gifted Dempsey his first goal with an errant pass, and the Argentine veteran and his teammates looked shaky on set pieces. Again this week, Portland coach Caleb Porter tried to emphasize the positives, but it's hard to escape the fact that the Timbers are now winless with 10 goals conceded in five games.
“I thought for the majority of the game we defended well, we attacked very well, I thought we controlled the game, had our foot on the throat at 4-2,” he told reporters afterward. “And the way the game was going at 4-2, there was no feeling with what the flow was doing and what you’re feeling, that the game was going to turn. A game turns when players make mistakes around the goal.”