As some of you may be aware I watch quite a few leagues and I thoroughly enjoy watching all of them, from the Russian Premier League to Serie A, the Premier League to the Bundesliga. However there is one league that I haven’t made much time for, that league is the MLS. During parts of last season I watched highlights here and there but never really went out of my way to catch up on all the action. This season has been different, with the arrival of players like Bradley and Defore I’ve found myself watching quite a few highlights since the season kicked off. So this Saturday I decided to watch the much anticipated derby between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders. One of the most intense rivalries in the MLS and it certainly lived up to it’s hype.
The fans were in fine voice as the players came out of the tunnel and it certainly added to the fantastic start to the game. After just two minutes Seattle took the lead. The corner came in and found Anibaba all on his own, he directed his shot towards the back post and former Portland Timber player Kenny Cooper was there to poke the ball home from a yard out. The visitors lead didn’t last long, in the 9th minute Pineda was robbed in midfield by Chará and after taking the ball forward the Colombian hammered a shot from outside the area, which flew past Frei in the Sounders goal.
Both teams were going for it and in a crazy minute they both almost scored as the end to end action continued. First up was Seattle, a long pass forward found Cooper, the striker played it out wide before receiving the ball back inside the area and his terrific strike was stopped by an outstanding Weber save. Portland went straight up the other end, Nagbe picked the ball up on the left, turned Yedlin before firing a low shot towards goal, only to be denied by the post. After just fourteen minutes it was 2-1 to Portland. Nagbe playing the ball out wide to Harrington, the leftback cutting the ball back to Váleri who was able to turn and excellently blast his shot past Frei, hitting the bar on it’s way in. Seattle were able to draw themselves level in the 24th minute, Alonso flicked the ball on to Martins and the Nigerian controlled well before playing Dempsey through and the ex Fulham and Tottenham player had the time and space to easily tuck the ball past Weber. Just before the break Weber made yet another fantastic save to keep the score at 2-2. A high cross into the box from the right was met by the head of Marshall, his powerful header was heading back across goal and it looked like it was on it’s way in but Weber reacted brilliantly to save his team.
Backed by their very vocal fans both sides continued playing in the same fashion and it was Portland that came out dressing the sharpest. In the 55th minute Chará doubled his tally and somehow managing to score a better goal than his first. He was given tons of space and with Seattle given him an invitation to shoot he delightfully accepted by unleashing a rocket which flew into the top corner. Portland didn’t waste any time in grabbing a fourth. Urruti easily out-muscled Anibaba, which gave him the time and space to excellently curl his shot past Frei, his celebration weren’t bad either. The time between those two goals was an impressive one minute, thirty-three seconds.
Portland thought they had a fifth in the 65th minute when a great corner in saw Paparatto rise the highest, his header striking the crossbar and it was Yedlin’s face that kept it from crossing the line. Martins was left with his head in his hands after missing a golden chance, he amazingly headed over from just a few yards out.
With five minutes remaining Seattle managed to grab their third of the game to set up a nervy ending. Pineda found Neagle out on the right, the substitute turned Harrington and his cross took a slight deflection to find it’s way to Dempsey and the Seattle captain controlled before lifting the ball over Weber. Seattle smelt blood and shortly after their third goal, Martins was tackled by Chará on the edge of the area only for Yedlin to burst in from the right to get his side a penalty, Zemanski was the man guilty of bringing him down. Dempsey stepped up to easily convert for his hattrick, Weber dived the wrong way.
It was an incredible game of football. End to end, quality football on show and an outstanding atmosphere. When I decided to tune in to watch I certainly didn’t expect it to be this entertaining. The 4-4 is now the highest scoring game between the two and it was a terrific advert for the league.
It wasn’t just the on-field action that impressed me, it was also the fan support. I already knew that both set of fans were the best fans in the league but it was on a completely different level to what I had expected before the game. The Timbers Army which were based in the North Stand were unbelievable, very passionate and they sung all game long. The travelling Seattle Sounders supporters made sure they were heard as well and I struggled to get their Born In 1974 song out of my head, it was one of many that each set of fans sung that were very catchy and great to listen too. Both fans were a credit to their clubs and the league and I have no doubt that they would out-sing a lot of clubs throughout Europe.
The game was fantastic viewing and the MLS have themselves a new fan. If you haven’t already then why not give it a go, I for one will certainly start watching it on a more regular basis. Plenty of passion, plenty of talent and plenty of noise!
Article for Footyscene.