The Seattle Sounders could have clinched a playoff berth and also could have moved into a first-place tie in the Cascadia Cup standings, but did neither Saturday at Jen Weld Field in Portland by settling for a 1-1 tie with the Timbers in front of a sellout crowd of 20,438. The Sounders couldn’t even take advantage of the fact that the Timbers played a man down in the last few minutes of the match.
With a win Saturday coupled with a Chivas USA loss, the Sounders would have clinched a playoff spot. By getting one point instead of three, Seattle moved to 13-6-9, 48 points. The Sounders are now 1-1-2 vs. Portland in MLS play and 0-1-1 this season. The Sounders are 6-4-2 in their past 12 matches.
With a win Saturday, the Sounders also could have matched their franchise-record season total of 14, set in 2010.
Following a scoreless first half, a violent 51st-minute collision between Seattle’s Eddie Johnson and Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts played an indirect role in setting up Seattle’s only goal.
After the pair collided on the goal line, leaving Ricketts hurt and dazed, the Portland medical staff spent time tending to him.
Ricketts finally got to his feet and elected to remain in the match, but six minutes later was forced to remove himself. Joe Bendik, making just his second appearance of the season, replaced Ricketts.
Twenty seconds after Bendik entered the contest, Fredy Montero knocked down a free kick from Michael Gspurning and rocketed the ball past a startled Bendik for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-0 Seattle lead. Gspurning’s assist was the first by a Seattle goalkeeper since Kasey Keller assisted on a Montero goal against Houston Aug. 8, 2010.
Portland got the equalizer in the 78th minute when Rodney Wallace knocked down a corner kick. Guspurning made an initial save, collided with teammate Leo Gonzalez and the ball spilled into the net for an own goal, for which Wallace got credit.
Portland nearly won the match two minutes later, but a Bright Dike shot thudded off the post following a corner kick.
Saturday’s match was the first of three that the Sounders play in a seven-day span. Seattle travels to Honduras for a Wednesday CONCACAF Champions League contest, then returns to Seattle Sept. 22 to take on the first-place San Jose Earthquakes.
The Sounders and Timbers will meet again Oct. 7 at CenturyLink Field, and the Sounders will open up the entire stadium for that match.