Seattle Sounders 2 extended their early dominance over rival Portland Timbers 2 with Pablo Rossi delivering the game winner in overtime of a 2-1 thriller to advance to the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup.
Timbers 2 got on the board first, but ten minutes after Rennico Clarke headed Portland into the lead, Andy Craven finally cashed in on one of his many shots to equalize, leading to the decisive overtime.
“We just wanted to come out there with the right mentality and set the tone for the rest of the game,” Craven said.
S2 pressed early, appearing to want to dictate terms and put T2 a bit on their heels. Seattle was able to get into interesting positions several times in the first ten minutes of the match, but lacked a finishing touch, as Portland keeper Justin Luthy was kept busy collecting shots that were never hard enough to cause him too much trouble.
A huge error in Portland’s back end gave Seattle a huge chance to make the early pressure pay. In the 8th minute, Danny O’Rourke attempted to pass across the field from the right flank, deep in his own territory. Unfortunately for O’Rourke, Vic Mansaray was the only person in the area. Mansaray quickly moved into attack and slid a nice ball forward for an on-rushing Sam Garza. Garza was able to get a shot off with plenty of heat behind it, but the ball was targeted at the chest of Luthy, who parried it away with a double fist.
After the resumption of play, it was T2’s turn to make an early push to tilt the battle in their favor, and unlike Seattle did during their early aggressive play, they created a goal from it.
Portland won a succession of corners by getting the ball deep and forcing S2 captain Damion Lowe to hurriedly shove the ball past the goal line. On the second such instance in a span of just a few minutes, Blair Gavin curled the ball in nicely from the right corner, finding Rennico Clarke, who skied above everyone to meet the cross and head it decisively past Kerawala for the 1-0 lead in the 55th.
“When we go down a goal, it’s like the energy just kicks up, and we just go to another level,” Garza said.
Seattle clearly found inspiration in finding themselves behind, launching into attack mode directly from the kickoff following the Portland goal. Mansaray was the catalyst for Seattle’s biggest chance of the match when he provided another great through-ball, this time for Craven. In what seemed like a must-score situation, the Seattle striker’s shot found only the keeper Luthy after the hour mark.
A few minutes later, Craven, perhaps frustrated by the blown chance, earned the game’s first yellow with a foul at midfield.
Craven found a more-productive outlet for his energy a few minutes after going into the book. With Mansaray again delivering a great opportunity through a well-placed ball, Craven beat the Portland back line, circled Luthy, and made no mistake in equalizing for the home side in the 65th.
Though the two sides are natural-born rivals, due to geography and the history of their two parent MLS clubs, there were few signs of animosity between the players on the pitch, nor much bloodlust from the S2 fans directed toward the T2 players.
And then Danny O’Rourke emerged as the first villain in the USL version of the Cascadian melodrama.
Upon the resumption of play after Mansaray exited the match for substitute Lorenzo Ramos in the 74th, the bearded Portland right back wrapped his arm around the neck of Craven and pulled, with the action taking place in full view of the 1,737 spectators in the S2 stands. From that point on, any touching of the ball by O’Rourke was met with a chorus of booing, the last round of which came when his substitution was announced via the stadium PA after the start of overtime.
Pablo Rossi was already the S2 hero of the US Open Cup for his game-winning goal from a direct free kick a week ago. Last week, Rossi delivered just a few minutes into the first overtime to put an S2 stamp on the extra frame. This time, Rossi waited until near the end of the first overtime to send Seattle into the next round.
After both sides exchanged interesting chances in overtime, it was Sam Garza making a great individual play to escape his mark in midfield and start a rush toward the Portland goal. Garza sent a pass along the ground into the area for Rossi, but the ball didn’t have enough steam to catch up to Rossi as the midfielder moved toward goal. Rossi adjusted to move back toward the ball, turn, and launch the game winner across the area, out of the reach of Luthy and inside the far post in the 104th.
Portland managed a few chances in the final fifteen minutes, the most-notable in the 116th which was Harrison Delbridge’s header, off a corner kick, that skirted just wide of the post.
S2 had two huge chances, with Portland conceding space in the back end as they pressed for the equalizer, but neither were converted.