Sounders celebrate their electric 4-3 win (photo by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
Vancouver, WA – On a rain drenched night in Vancouver, Washington the Sounders U-23 pulled out an inspired 4-3 victory over the Portland Timbers U-23. The incredible match had one lead change and was tied 1-1, then 2-2, and 3-3, until the game winning goal from Fernando Monge in the 88th minute.
Sounders U-23 Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky, said after the match, “I’m extremely proud of our guys tonight. That was one of the more complete efforts we’ve had. Cam Vickers hit the shot of his life to tie it up 3-3 but I’m extremely proud of the guys for battling back, and getting the fourth goal. They really deserved it.”
First opportunity of the night fell to the Sounders two minutes in. A perfectly weighted volley from Aodhan Quinn finds the feet of Jamael Cox. Cox saw Sean Okoli making a run into the box and led him in front of a trailing defender. Okoli’s first time shot was directed toward the bottom corner but Spencer Richey made a fantastic save with his right foot to deny the Sounders.
The Timbers got out to an early lead with a 9th minute goal touched home by Mark Sherrod. The Portland Timbers took a quick throw in while the Sounders were appealing for possession. The throw in opened up a crossing opportunity toward Sherrod. The Portland forward pulled defenders away from the ball before sharply heading to the near post to meet an accurate cross for the point blank shot. The goal is Sherrod’s seventh of the season.
The Sounders pulled even in the 21st minute on a Portland own goal created by Jamael Cox. The Sounders long throw in was flicked six yards past the back post. Jamael Cox was there for a first time half-volley across the face of goal. Standing at the back post were Sean Okoli and Timbers defender, Chris Harms. The Portland defender tried to clear the driven cross but with pressure from Okoli, Harms’ touch deflected the ball into his own net.
The goal sparked the Sounders back into the match. They began winning the majority of the 50/50 balls, and generated a few dangerous chances on the attack.
In the 29th minute, the Sounders turned that dominance into a goal to take the lead. Fernando Monge read an awkward bouncing ball better than the Timbers defense. Monge lowered his head to knock the ball off the turf and behind the defense. He was free for a 20 yard run until the defense was able to catch up. Realizing the attention coming toward him, Monge stretched to touch the ball to his left, for the on-rushing Sean Morris. The Sounders wing had one touch to beat Spencer Richey, who was sliding toward him. Morris used a superb and delicate touch to lift the ball over Richey and into the net.
The Timbers started the 2nd half on the front foot. A good move down the left side turned into a cross that barely evaded Cam Vickers on the back post. However, 30 seconds later, in the 56th minute, a lobbed ball straight down the middle forced the Sounders into a difficult clearance. The bouncing ball came down between Timbers forward, Erik Hurtado, Anthony Arena, and Doug Herrick. Hurtado was able to poke the ball past Herrick in between bounces and the ball trickled into the net to tie the score 2-2.
The Timbers nearly took back the lead when Mark Sherrod muscled Mark Lee off the ball inside the Sounders penalty box. Sherrod had only Doug Herrick to beat, but his first touch in open space was too far in front and Herrick gobbled up the ball.
Instead of the Timbers taking the lead, the Sounders were presented a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in the 67th minute. A long shot was blocked by goalkeeper, Spencer Richey in the Portland goal. His save was parried back toward Luis Esteves in front of goal. When Esteves lept to head the ball, he was pushed in the back and knocked off balance. His header went off frame, but immediately the referee pointed to the spot for a Sounders penalty kick.
Aodhan Quinn stepped up and put his left footed shot into the bottom right corner to put the Sounders up 3-2.
Just when it looked like the frenetic match would rest with the Sounders in front, the Timbers struck back. In the 72nd minute, former Sounders U-23, Cam Vickers, launched a shot from 30 yards out. The winger’s effort, from a soft angle, knuckled on its way towards Doug Herrick’s goal. Herrick tried to punch it away but it glanced off his wet gloves into the upper near-corner.
The Sounders saved one last moment of inspiration for the 88th minute. They whipped a corner kick into the area and it was flicked onto the back side of the goal box. There to receive it was Fernando Monge. He reacted by smashing it towards goal. Despite multiple Timbers’ efforts to clear the ball, it ended up in the back of the net for a 4-3 Sounders win.
The Sounders win gets them right back in the hunt for the Northwest Division crown. The Sounders leap over the Timbers in the standings with 21 points after 11 games. The Timbers fall to 4th place with 19 points from 10 matches.
Next up for the Sounders U-23 is an away match on June 29th against the North Sound Seawolves. See SoundersU23.com for info and recaps for the season.