Despite an early goal from Cristian Roldan, the Sounders were denied a key rivalry win Sunday after a penalty near at the end of the first half, as well as by a litany of missed chances in the second frame. Nevertheless, conference-leading Seattle drew 1-1 with second-place Portland in front of 51,796 at the Clink, extending its unbeaten streak to 11 matches.
Brian Schmetzer summed up the night in a word.
“Disappointment,” Schmetzer said. “I’ll go back to the Vancouver match. You’re playing your two arch-rivals, you have chances in both those games to put your opponent away and you don’t do it. Everybody in the locker room is disappointed.
“Portland looked very good in the first half, you have to give them some credit. Then, in the second half I thought we came out and created some clean looks on goal that we should have put away. The last 10 minutes, you’re throwing everything at the goal, and they were able to keep it at 1-1.”
The first half was a choppy affair for the Sounders, who struggled to maintain possession against Portland (11-8-9, 41 points). Several times, the Timbers set up shop in the attacking end and tried to break through, but Seattle (11-9-7, 42 points) held firm and blasted the ball clear 13 times.
Seattle took the lead in the 17th minute. A loose ball from a corner kick fell through a scrum of players in the six-yard box and met the foot of Roldan, who flicked it into the side of the net for his career-high sixth goal of the season.
Just when it looked as if the Sounders would hold the lead at halftime, Darren Mattocks received a through ball and split two defenders on his way into the box. Mattocks collided with Seattle keeper Stefan Frei and defenders Roman Torres and Kelvin Leerdam, causing a pileup as referee Mark Geiger pointed to the spot of the foul.
Diego Valeri’s penalty beat Frei low and to the right, seconds before the break.
In the second half, Seattle outshot the visitors 10-4, but could not put anything past keeper Jeff Attinella. Twice, Jordan Morris was on the end of through balls in one-on-one situations, but was unable to beat Attinella from close range. Nicolas Lodeiro, meanwhile, connected just 74 percent of his passes, seeming out of touch with his fellow forwards.
The game’s final shock came in the closing seconds. Seattle left back Nohou Tolo was sent off in the final minute of stoppage time after a flailing arm caught Diego Chara, earning him a straight red card from Geiger and stopping a promising late attack for Seattle.
Schmetzer said the 20-year-old’s mistake was common among young players.
“I don’t know if it was real egregious or not, but certainly the kid needs to learn,” he said. “It’s normal. This probably was the biggest game he’s ever played in. It’s going to take him some time to gain the experience, the savvy in late moments. He’s willing to learn and (assistant coach) Djimi Traore does a great job with him. We’ve got nothing but high hopes for him.”
The Sounders beat the Timbers 1-0 in May in Seattle, and in a June match in Portland drew 2-2. The history suggests a potential meeting in the playoffs will be even more tense than the standard hostilities.
Nine Sounders called up for international play
Taking note of the recent run of 11 matches without a loss, six national teams called up nine Sounders players for World Cup qualifiers.
In the two-week pause in MLS play, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan have been called up to USMNT, which faces Costa Rica Friday (3:30 p.m., ESPN) before traveling to San Pedro Sula to play Honduras Sept. 5 (2:30 p.m., beIN Sports).
Torres has been called up to captain Panama in a critical pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and and Trinidad & Tobago, where he will face Sounders teammate Joevin Jones.
Oniel Fisher will return to join Jamaica for a friendly against Canada.
Lodeiro will join Uruguay for a pair of CONMEBOL qualifiers against Argentina and Paraguay.
Gustav Svensson received his first call-up from Sweden since January 2016 for a pair of UEFA World Cup qualifiers at Bulgaria and at Belarus.
Tolo received his first senior-team call-up from Cameroon for a pair of AFCON World Cup qualifiers, both against Nigeria.