Timbers topple Sounders 2-1
Brian Fernandez scored both goals and Steve Clark came up big in goal as the Portland Timbers beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 on Wednesday in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament.
With the win at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington, the Timbers advanced to the round of 16 in the U.S. Soccer national tournament. The draw for next week's game, likely to be played on Wednesday, was scheduled for 7 a.m. Thursday.
Fernandez continued the hot start to his Timbers career, adding two U.S. Open Cup goals to the four he has scored in his three MLS appearances.
Fernandez scored early in each half, the winner coming five minutes after halftime at the end of a beautiful counterattack.
Victor Rodriguez scored the Seattle goal from a free kick just before halftime.
Clark made seven saves, including a reaction stop on a drive by Henry Wingo in the 88th minute.
Portland's go-ahead goal was a picture-perfect counter.
Jeremy Ebobisse delivered the cross at the end of a quick up-field play that started with Clark rolling the ball to Sebastian Blanco. Blanco dribbled quickly forward and sent the ball to Diego Valeri, whose one-touch pass sent Ebobisse into space up the left wing. Ebobisse's driven cross was turned into the goal by Fernandez.
Portland had several chances to extend the lead, but Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith came up big on chances for Fernandez and Valeri. Also, Valeri and Ebobisse each missed on a quality chance in the second half.
Seattle, with nine regular first-team players away on national team duty, had chances to tie the game again, but didn't convert.
The best of those was a penalty kick that Rodriguez smashed off the crossbar in the 68th minute after Larrys Mabiala was called for a hand ball foul.
Fernandez gave the Timbers an early lead, placing a low shot from 21 yards outside the reach of Meredith.
With three weeks between MLS games, Portland fielded a lineup of regular starters — the only exception being Renzo Zambrano, who played alongside Diego Chara in midfield. But it was Seattle, despite a makeshift lineup, that was the more assertive and more dangerous side for long stretches of the first half.
The tying goal came on a Rodriguez free kick after he was clumsily fouled by Zambrano. The shot deflected off the head of Portland's Fernandez, changing directions and giving Clark no chance.
Midway through the first half, Clark made a one-on-one stop to deny Nouhou, then had to block a Rodriguez chance after the resulting corner kick.
Other than the Fernandez goal, the Timbers' best chance of the first half came in stoppage time, when a Jorge Moreira cross forced Meredith to deflect it off the bar.
Thirteen MLS clubs have advanced to the round of 16, with Atlanta United set to play the Charleston Battery on Thursday in a game rescheduled because of field conditions.
Two USL Championship teams have reached the round of 16. St. Louis FC beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Tuesday, and New Mexico United eliminated the Colorado Rapids on penalty kicks on Wednesday.
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