Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders: Sounders Escape With A 1-1 Draw

A breathless final half-hour in Portland ended with each side picking up a goal, keeping the Cascadia Cup in Seattle's possession for at least a few more weeks.

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2012 MLS Standings: Loss To San Jose At Home Stings, But Sounders Still In Good Position

The Seattle Sounders missed a great chance to gain ground on the San Jose Earthquakes atop the MLS Western Conference Saturday night at CenturyLink Field. They fell 2-1 and now the Earthquakes are ever so close to clinching the conference regular-season title.

With San Jose thinking about that and the Supporter's Shield for most points in the entire league, the Sounders must set their sights on a second-place finish. They're in solid position to do so despite the home loss, and at 48 points are only one point out of second behind Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy.

Seattle has five matches left to play in the regular season. The Galaxy and RSL have four. Second place is important because that team would get to host a conference semifinal, while fourth place means a play-in game just to get into the conference semifinals.

The Sounders are 13-7-9 on the season and headed to a fourth postseason appearance in four seasons of existence.

For more on the Seattle Sounders FC, join the discussion over at Sounder At Heart. You can also check out everything we have to offer at SB Nation's soccer hub.

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Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers Play To Hard Fought 1-1 Draw

It was far from the prettiest game ever played, but derbies often aren't. But the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers put on quite a show, in a hard-fought match that good have gone either way until the very end. Neither team will be fully satisfied with the result, but it was likely the fairest one as both teams had their chances but struggled mightily to finish. With Seattle and Portland splitting the points, the destination of the Cascadia Cup will remain unknown for another few weeks.

The first half was a tense and even affair, but ultimately uneventful as the two sides went to the break level at 0-0 without much in the way of scoring chances. The second half started off in a similar vein, but the game opened up significantly after Fredy Montero opened the scoring with an absolute wonder-strike. Finding themselves a goal down, the Timbers began to throw men forward with abandon and the pressure clearly rattled the Sounders. After threatening for the better part of 20 minutes, Portland equalized in the 78th minute thanks to Rodney Wallace's perfectly placed header from a Jack Jewsbury corner.

The goal gave the Timbers even more confidence, and it was a nervy finish for the Sounders; the Timbers continued to threaten from set pieces, and in the 92nd minute Bright Dike very nearly won it for the home side when he pounced on a failed clearance and clanged a shot off the post. That scare seemed to wake up the Sounders a bit, and they spent the remainder of the game holding on to possession and taking only clear opportunities to attack, with the game's last chance coming after a punched ball by Joe Bendik fell to Osvaldo Alonso whose low, driven effort was smothered by the Timbers keeper.

The Sounders next Cascadia Cup match will take place in Vancouver on September 29th and the Timbers will make their lone visit to Seattle this season on October 7th, but the more pressing matter will be next Saturday's clash with current Supporters Shield race leaders he San Jose Earthquakes. Seattle has lost both previous games against the Earthquakes this season, and a failure to win next weekend would be a major blow to Seattle's playoff positioning and CONCACAF Champions League qualification odds. But after a game like today's, Sounders fans would be well served to take a bit of a breather before thinking about the challenges ahead.

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Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders: Teams Head To The Break Even At 0-0

It's been a derby match all right; lots of physical play, some pushing and shoving, very little in the way of flowing play or decent attacking moves. Each side has had their chances, but a 0-0 scoreline as the game heads to the half seems about right. Franck Songo'o has had the Timbers best effort, sending in a rocket from just outside the box that was turned away by Michael Gspurning, while Osvaldo Alonso has come closest for the Sounders with a volley from 30 yards out that went just wide.

Both sides have been largely tentative going forward, with the majority of the action taking place in the center of the pitch. That will like suit the Timbers just fine, as their preferred compact shape has been largely unaltered and they've arguably had the better of the chances while the Sounders have struggled to find a rhythm. Seattle will need to make some tactical adjustments if they hope to find a goal, while the Timbers will require a bit of creativity in the attacking third.

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