By Tim Booth | The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Substitute Felipe Mora scored after slipping behind the Seattle defense in the 83rd minute and the Portland Timbers beat the Sounders 2-1 on Sunday night.
Moments after Seattle nearly took the lead, Mora came open behind the Sounders back line, collected a well-timed pass from Eryk Williamson and beat goalkeeper Stefan Frei to give the Timbers the lead.
It was Mora’s third straight match with a goal and gave the Timbers (4-3-2) some redemption after a 3-0 loss at the hands of Seattle (4-2-3) two weeks ago in Portland.
“I think the difference was that we were able to perform the entire match. Not like the previous matches in which we had good moments, but also some other moments in which we lack concentration. We allow the teams to be able to find moments to imbalance us,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. “And I think today what was the key factor was how in tune everybody was with each other.”
Williamson scored early in the first half for the Timbers, who played most of the match without star forward Sebastian Blanco after he suffered a knee injury in the opening moments. Saverese said Blanco would undergo further examination back in Portland on Monday.
Kelvin Leerdam scored just before halftime for Seattle, and the Sounders had the better of the chances but suffered their third consecutive regular season loss at home to the Timbers.
“Hopefully we can clean things up. … Portland is a very good team that plays extremely well on the counter attack and we weren’t as sound defensively, especially in the second (half),” Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan said.
Since winning the MLS is Back tournament in Florida last month, the Timbers were winless in their first three matches as part of the league’s restart. Portland had allowed 10 goals in those three matches — two losses and a draw — but shut down the Sounders.
Williamson scored in the ninth minute off a perfectly chipped pass from Diego Valeri that landed at Williamson’s feet as he continued his run.
But Seattle controlled most of the possession and finally converted in the 42nd minute when Leerdam’s right-footed shot from the top of the penalty area couldn’t be stopped by Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark. It was Leerdam’s second goal of the season, both coming against the Timbers.
Clark finished with two saves, his best coming just before Leerdam’s goal when he stopped Jordan Morris from close range.
Frei made three saves, including a key stop on Jaroslaw Niezgoda early in the second half after a careless defensive mistake by Yeimar Gómez Andrade.
The Timbers lost Blanco to a right knee injury in the second minute. Blanco’s right leg buckled in a duel with João Paulo and immediately collapsed to the turf in severe discomfort. He was down for several minutes and eventually helped off the field and back to the Portland locker room.
Blanco returned to the field at halftime on crutches and with a large brace on his knee and watched the second half from the sidelines.
Blanco was the MVP for the MLS is Back tournament after scoring three goals and adding five assists in helping lead the Timbers to the title.