A sellout crowd of 3,100 jammed rainy Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila on Friday as Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers met for the first time as MLS rivals.
Their cheering and chanting was as memorable as anything that played out on the pitch as the fledgling Timbers scored early and late to put away the Sounders, 2-0.
“I think the atmosphere is what it’s all about,” Portland coach John Spencer said. “I said to the players before the game: No one comes to the Northwest for the weather. Everybody lives here, if you’re a soccer guy, because you want to come and play at the highest level and be treated like a top-class professional.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid had no quarrel with that and said it added to his disappointment.
“I don’t like losing; nobody in the locker room likes losing,” he said. “I’m sure the Portland fans are going to have a happy drive home. I’m disappointed for our fans, but as I said, we have to be sure we’re ready on March 15.”
That’s when the Sounders open their third regular season against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Qwest Field.
And despite all of the passion in the stands Friday, the main purpose of this match was to prepare the respective teams for the games that count.
Schmid used the opportunity to get long minutes for his first 11: goalkeeper Kasey Keller; defenders James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leo Gonzalez; midfielders Alvaro Fernandez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani; and forwards Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo. All played at least 69 minutes, and seven went the whole way.
Jorge Perlaza opened the scoring in the 21st minute, finishing at the far post after Keller had blocked, but not controlled, a shot by Kenny Cooper.
Cooper finished the scoring in the third minute of stoppage time, beating Keller one-on-one in the box.
“I’m really ticked at the last goal that we gave up,” Schmid said. “The first goal was a soft goal. I think that’s one that we shouldn’t have given up. It is what it is. It’s preseason.”
Seattle dominated most of the time in between, launching 18 shots to Portland’s seven. Both teams put four on goal.
“It’s a game we wanted to win in front of the fans – it’s the first time they’ve seen us,” Zakuani said.
The three-day Cascadia Summit continues today with a supporters summit and coaches forum at noon and a game between Portland and the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps at 4 p.m.
The event concludes with the Sounders meeting Vancouver at 3 p.m. Sunday.