Understanding the conventional soccer wisdom that there is no such thing as an ugly goal, this was an ugly goal. But not quite as ugly as the game.
Like in-laws who don’t care for each other but don’t hate enough to punch grills, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers languished and lollygagged for 76 minutes at the Clink Sunday night. A Fox Sports 1 national TV audience and and season-high 41,451 fans were drifting between ennui and lethargy before a score oozed out almost accidentally.
A 77th-minute throw-in by Dylan Remick grazed off the head of Sounders captain Clint Dempsey and fell to the feet of fresh substitute Andy Rose. His left-footed shot from 10 yards was denied but not contained by Timbers goalie Adam Kwarasey, whose next moments will haunt him for a good while.
Kwarasey was prone a yard in front of the goal line as the ball rolled over him and trickled away. Dempsey bore down on the fumble and barely needed to put a toe on the ball to shove it in the back of the net, enough for a 1-0 triumph that started the annual Cascadia Cup histrionics with a rave-green advantage (box score).
It probably shouldn’t have been a shock to Kwarasey. As Ghana’s goalkeeper in the World Cup, he was also beaten by Dempsey, the USMNT captain.
“We kept pushing the whole game, trying to connect passes, trying to find a chance,” Dempsey said. “The one we scored on, we probably shouldn’t have scored on.”
An honest assessment, but since many a spectacular build is often thwarted by randomness, there is no shame associated with pouncing on a cheapie.
“I came down and saved the first shot,” Kwarasey said. “I got a weird spin and it was loose and I couldn’t find it and then Dempsey basically was on the line to tap it in.”
The third win in a row in the series for the Sounders moved them into third place in the Western Conference with 13 points, and defeated a strategy seemingly intent on avoiding mistakes.
“We were a little bit surprised at the beginning of the game,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The games (with Portland) are usually very high-tempo games, and they were very content about pushing the ball around the back and not try to go anywhere with it, taking the air out of the ball. We did a good job of not falling into their trap of getting stretched.”
The score ignited some late energy because the Timbers abandoned their draw-in-Seattle-is-as-good-as-a-win strategy to get serious. Biggest threat came in the third minute of extra time when Seattle GK Stefan Frei dropped a free kick, but the ball scudded beyond the far post.
Dempsey is the Timbers’ nemesis. The goal was his sixth in the series, and his fourth game in a row in the series in which he has scored. He and Obafemi Martins each have four scores to lead Seattle.
“It’s always good to score against your rivals,” Dempsey said. “I try to score every game. It’s a little more special when you can score one against your rivals, and especially a game winner.”
Seattle moved to 4-2-1 in MLS and the Timbers fell to 2-3-3 and 0-2 in the Cup, having lost to Vancouver March 28 . . . Seattle center back Chad Marshall missed the match, serving a one-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. The 2014 MLS Defender of the Year was initially shown a yellow card following a hard tackle in the 13th minute of the Sounders’ 3-1 victory over the Rapids, but was later ruled red-card-worthy . . . The Sounders crowd upped their season average to 40,067, ahead of expansion upstart Orlando City.
The Sounders have three road games in a row. They start Sunday with their first visit to Yankee Stadium and New York City FC before continuing to Columbus and Vancouver. The next home match is May 23 against Sporting Kansas City.