Sounders U-23 celebrate the match winner (photo by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
Tumwater, WA – Saturday night the Sounders U-23 defeated the Portland Timbers U-23 1-0 in dramatic fashion. The Cascadian rivalry proved to be a defensive struggle between two top PDL sides. The match’s only goal was scored in stoppage time by Sounders U-23 forward Jamael Cox. Goal keeper Doug Herrick stepped up big for the Sounders U-23 to keep Portland off of the board.
The rivalry match was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 1300 at Tumwater High School. Supporters from both sides made thier way out to cheer on their team.
The Sounders looked to be off to a dream start as the ball fell to Aodhan Quinn in the second minute just outside the penalty area. He gathered the ball and rifled a shot on goal, but right at the Portland goalkeeper Spencer Richey.
Shortly after, a long throw in for Portland into the Sounders U-23 box found the head of a Portland striker and was headed for the corner of the goal, but not before Doug Herrick was able to make his first of what would be many outstanding saves on the day.
Later in the 19th minute Sounder’s U-23 midfielder Aodhan Quinn was able to pick up the ball at midfield and slot a looping pass through the Portland defense to a diagonally running Fernando Monge who had a great look at goal, but could not beat the Portland keeper for the goal.
For much of the first half both teams struggled to create chances on goal. In the 26th minute Portland’s Roberto Farfan crossed a free kick into the Sounders U-23 box, but the defense stood strong and was able to clear the threat.
As the half was winding down Sounder’s U-23 forward Sean Okoli earned a free kick for just outside the right side of the box as he held off two Portland defenders. However, the cross was taken right into the one-man wall and the chance went wasted.
The Sounders U-23 had one more chance at goal in the 45th minute as DeAndre Yedlin made a run up the sideline from his right back position to whip a cross into the box where two green jerseys were making a run. The Portland defense held strong and won the ball in the air for the clearance and the referee called for halftime.
Early in the second half the Portland Timbers U-23 were knocking on the door as a free kick was given in the 48th minute just outside the Sounders U-23 box, straight on at goal. The Sounders U-23s five-man wall stood tall as the kick was taken directly into it, and then cleared out of danger.
The Sounders U-23 went the other way with the ball down the right sideline, and after some great close-quarters one-two passing between the Sounders U-23 midfielders, Fernando Monge was sprung free in the box with a look at goal. He hit his shot which prompted a diving attempt from the Portland keeper but sailed just over and wide of the target.
For most of the rest of the game the Sounders U-23 survived several good attacking chances by the Timbers U-23. In the 52nd minute the ball was picked up at the top of the box by Portland forward Erik Hurtado, who was able to beat his defender and send a shot toward goal. Doug Herrick came up with a huge save getting just enough of the ball to send it wide of the post.
Herrick came up big again for his team in the 57th minute as he came racing out of his goal to punch away a Portland corner with authority.
The attacks on the Sounders U-23 goal kept coming in the 72nd minute as Portland’s Erik Hutado broke loose behind the defense and tested Herrick again, but again Herrick was up to the challenge and knocked the shot attempt wide.
The last great chance for Portland came in the 87th minute as a good looking through ball raced through the Sounders U-23 defense, into the box, to a Portland striker who wound up to strike the ball on goal. Sounders U-23 defender Anthony Arena slid in and knocked the ball away just in time in what looked like a goal saving tackle.
With the game still knotted at 0-0 it looked as though the teams were headed for a scoreless draw. Then, Sounders U-23 forward Facundo Dipasquale was able to bring down a long kick from keeper Doug Herrick and slide it past the Portland defense to a streaking Jamael Cox. Cox rocketed a shot past the Portland keeper for the deciding goal. Sounders U-23 fans erupted with cheers as the stoppage time goal hit the back of the net.
The win puts the Sounders U-23s in a tie for second with the Kitsap Pumas in the PDL Northwest division standings with 12 points. Portland Timbers U-23 remain in first place with 15 points. Saturday night’s match was their first loss of the season.
The Sounders U-23 are back on the field Friday June 8th, when they will host the Washington Crossfire at 7:30 p.m. at Franklin Pierce High School. Tickets will be available at the gait, and also at SoundersU23.com.