Sounders’ first-leg woes go on

Seattle drops opening-leg match to Portland, must beat Timbers by 2 goals Thursday to advance in playoffs

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comNovember 2, 2013 

Portland’s Ryan Johnson, center, scores against Seattle goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, right, as Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado looks on Saturday.

TED S. WARREN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders’ troubles in the first leg of MLS playoff series continued Saturday night with a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field.

The result gives the Sounders a one-goal deficit to overcome Thursday when the aggregate-score Western Conference semifinal resolves in Portland.

Through six aggregate-score series over their five MLS seasons, the Sounders have been outscored in the opening legs, 9-1.

The trend continued Saturday as Portland scored the first two goals before the Sounders finally lightened their load with a goal by Osvaldo Alonso in the 90th minute.

Portland broke through in the 15th minute when Ryan Johnson got his head on a cross from Jack Jewsbury and redirected it into the goal from a tight angle.

The Sounders almost answered five minutes later when Clint Dempsey put a free kick toward a top corner, but goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts knocked it over the bar. Dempsey had another chance a few minutes later, but this time sent the free kick high.

The score lingered unchanged into the 67th minute when Portland connected again. Darlington Nagbe made space with a sharp turn away from his defender in the box and beat goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann to the far side.

After that, Seattle had several chances to cut it deficit for the resolution match. An Eddie Johnson header went just wide, a Dempsey rebound from 10 yards was fired wide, and in the closing minutes a Dempsey header bounce off the crossbar.

Nothing got through until the final minute of regulation, when Alonso took a rebound in front of the goal and fired past Ricketts. It ended a streak of 371 shutout minutes for the Portland defense.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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