Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders final score: 4-4, an eight-goal thriller

Steve Dykes

The best rivalry in MLS took center stage on Saturday and was better than anyone could have imagined.

The Seattle Sounders were down 4-2. The match was over. They were going to lose to the hated Portland Timbers again.

And then Clint Dempsey scored his second goal of the match. And then his third. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the Sounders had themselves a 4-4 match in one of the wildest matches MLS has ever seen.

The Sounders went in front after three minutes when a corner kick found Jalil Anibaba at the back post, who played the ball back into the middle where Kenny Cooper was waiting to tap it in. The Providence Park crowd was stunned, but their disappointment didn't last long.

Six minutes after the Timbers fell behind, Diego Chara dribbled the ball right up the middle and, 25 yards from goal, ripped a shot that Stefan Frei could only get a fingertip to before it found the corner of the net for an equalizer. Minutes later, Diego Valeri gathered the ball from five yards out. A wonderful turn and shot later, Portland was in front. Now it was the Sounders' turn to be stunned.

That was hardly all of the first half action. The match stayed wide open, with both teams getting chances; there was plenty of physicality and bad blood too. There was also one more goal.

Obafemi Martins got the ball 20 yards from goal and, while he first looked at the goal, he then saw that nobody was marking Dempsey, who was wide open at the top of the box. Martins fed his strike partner, who took a touch to gather, then slid the ball past Andrew Weber to bring the match level.

By the time the two teams went to halftime, there were four goals, another half-dozen close calls and a handful of nasty challenges. It was a mess.

The second half was no different. Just 10 minutes after the break, Seattle gave Chara space from 25 yards again and he hit the ball even better this time. The Colombian fired a bullet that made a beeline for the top corner, where it screamed into the net for the go-ahead goal that ignited Providence Park.

Less than two minutes later, Portland struck again. Cooper played a dangerous ball back to Anibaba, who had a terrible match and added to it by being easily shoved off the ball by Maximiliano Urruti. The Timbers forward was able to then hop on the ball, get to within 20 yards and hit a gorgeous curling shot to double their lead at 4-2. They had the match in the bag, or so it appeared.

The teams kept trading chances, with the Timbers hitting the bar and Martins blowing a great chance for the Sounders. It was a crazy series, but as time crept on, it looked more and more like Portland had the win in the bag.

Then Dempsey struck five minutes from time when the ball fell to him and he was able to poke it home. The Sounders were alive! And that proved true on their next foray forward, which saw DeAndre Yedlin knocked over in the box, earning Seattle a deserved penalty. Dempsey stepped to the spot, and buried his kick.

The Sounders had completed their comeback. They had themselves a point, and the Timbers remained winless.

Until the next Cascadia Cup match, which cannot possibly match the entertainment of this one.

Portland Timbers: Weber, Kah, Harrington, Powell, Paparatto, Valeri, Johnson (Zakuani 89'), Chara, Nagbe (Zemanski 85'), Alhassan, Urruti (Piquionne 84').

Goals: Chara 9', Valeri 14', Chara 55', Urruti 57'.

Seattle Sounders: Frei, Gonzalez, Yedlin, Anibaba, Marshall, Pineda, Azira (Pappa 68'), Alonso, Dempsey, Martins, Cooper (Neagle 60').

Goals: Cooper 3', Dempsey 24', Dempsey 85', Dempsey 87'.

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