Sounders don't disappoint record crowd, beating Portland 3-0
Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero provided the scoring in a dominant performance over the rival Timbers, giving the Sounders the lead in the Cascadia Cup standings with one game remaining.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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The celebration of Sounders FC soccer couldn't have gone better.
A franchise-record crowd for an MLS game showed up at CenturyLink Field. A high-powered offense overwhelmed a motivated rival. And the Cascadia Cup remained in Seattle — for another couple weeks, at least.
A dominant 3-0 win Sunday against the Portland Timbers, in front of 66,452, the second-largest crowd in league history for a stand-alone game, was a victory on multiple levels.
MLS commissioner Don Garber was one of the admirers.
"I'm not even here on official duty tonight," he said at halftime. "I'm here just to experience it. I knew this would be a historic event."
Before the game, as the stadium filled in, coach Sigi Schmid looked to assistant coach Brian Schmetzer and said, "This is what heaven must be like."
Afterward, Schmid added: "In my imagination of heaven, this is it: packed house, beating Portland by three, fans going crazy — it can't get better than that."
The Sounders (14-7-10) jumped into third place in a tight race for playoff seeding in the Western Conference and retained the Cascadia Cup with the win. Portland would have clinched the trophy with a win or tie, though the Timbers (7-16-9) still can with a win on Oct. 21 in Vancouver.
Seattle started the rout in the 25th minute, when a cross to forward Fredy Montero was knocked into the Timbers goal by defender Futty Danso.
It was a good omen, as the Sounders have gone 24-0-6 since the end of the 2010 season when scoring first — the second-longest active streak in MLS.
The lead grew in the 28th minute when forward Eddie Johnson scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season off a cross from midfielder Brad Evans. Johnson, who is expected to be called up to the U.S. men's national team Monday, already owns the team record for goals in a season.
"Having 67,000 people behind you really helped tonight," said Johnson, who compared the atmosphere to those in top stadiums around the world.
Montero capped the scoring in the 62nd minute by knocking in the ball during a scramble in front of the goal. The play was initially ruled an own goal, but was later changed to Montero's 13th of the season, which established a new career high.
"When you see numbers, you see that I've scored more goals than the last three years," the 25-year-old Colombian said, "but also I think the team is playing well, and hopefully this year in the playoffs we can advance further than the last three years."
Johnson and Montero have combined for eight goals in six Cascadia Cup games this season.
Portland fell to a league-worst 0-12-4 on the road.
Sunday marked just the second time this season the Sounders have repeated the same starting lineup in consecutive league games. Each resulted in a big win — the other being a 4-0 home win against the Galaxy on Aug. 5.
Huge crowds in general have translated to wins in Seattle. The team is 5-0-1 in MLS games in front of more than 40,000, outscoring opponents 16-1. In front of more than 55,000 fans, the Sounders are 4-0 with an 11-1 goal differential.
"It's a special opportunity to play in front of that many people, one you'll always remember," said midfielder Brad Evans.
• Sounders FC gets next weekend off before hosting second-place Real Salt Lake on Oct. 17.
• Sunday marked the 79th meeting between the teams, dating to 1975 in the old North American Soccer League. Seattle holds a 41-28-10 advantage in the series.
• Ex-Sounder Roger Levesque, who retired in July, was honored with a Golden Scarf before the game and announced Seattle's starting lineup. The fan favorite was particularly known for being a Timbers nemesis, with 10 goals and four assists in 29 games against Portland in MLS and lower divisions.
• Johnson said he couldn't comment on whether he'd been called up to the national team, which he indicated on his Twitter account Friday night. U.S. Soccer is expected to announce its roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers Monday afternoon.
• Seattle's Leo Gonzalez left the game in the second half with what is believed to be a slight hamstring strain.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
|Portland||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle||2 1 — 3|
Portland — Donovan Ricketts, David Horst, Mamadou Danso (Eric Brunner, 68th), Rodney Wallace, Lovel Palmer, Darlington Nagbe (Eric Alexander, 78th), Sal Zizzo (Michael Fucito, 46th), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Franck Songo'o, Bright Dike.
Seattle — Michael Gspurning, Jeff Parke, Adam Johansson, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch, 77th), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose, 87th), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert (David Estrada, 88th), Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero.
|Cascadia Cup standings|