Seattle Sounders FC fall in “painful” loss to rival Portland Timbers FC

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PHOTO: Members of the Seattle Sounders group together for a pre-game talk from captain Ozzie Alonso, while fans hold a banner in the background. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

SEATTLE, Washington (Nov.9, 2018) — The dream of the Seattle Sounders FC making it this far in the MLS playoffs about five months ago was ludicrous.

Even making the playoffs for a history 10-straight seasons seemed far off.

Seattle Sounders FC fall in “painful” loss to rival Portland Timbers FC

However, the Sounders were able to pull away from last place in the Western Conference, finishing the regular-season in second place. In a rivalry fan’s dream, the Sounders were matched up against the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference semifinals.

The two teams are historic rivals, with their meetings surpassing 100 this season.

However, this time, the Timbers got the better of Seattle. In the first leg, Portland earned some cushion on their home field, securing a 2-1 victory. However, in the second leg, Seattle lit a fire underneath them, surging to extra time and eventually penalties.

Raúl Ruidíaz was the early hero for Seattle, scoring the opening goal in the 68th minute. However, Portland equalized in the 78th minute, off a goal from Sebastián Blanco. Back-and-forth scoring then ensued, with Ruidíaz scoring a second goal in extra time of the second half.

However, in extra time, Seattle lost its advantage of even equalizing to win. After going down to a Darion Asprilla goal in extra time, Seattle got some much needed hope when a handball was conceded inside of the penalty area by Diego Valeri. Nicolás Lodeiro lined up a penalty kick past Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Antinella.

Penalties fall flat for Seattle

Ruidíaz has no trouble finding the back of the net.

After missing a potential game-winning goal in extra time as the ball touched his hand, Ruidíaz led the way for Seattle on penalties. He followed behind Lucas Melano, who scored the first past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

However, Seattle missed two straight penalty kicks after, with Will Bruin hitting the post and Osvaldo Alonso going wide. Valeri and Blanco scored, while the two veterans missed for Seattle.

While Liam Ridgewell had his shot saved by Frei, Handwalla Bwana scored past Antinella. However, all the pressure came down to one moment and Asprilla scored the game-winning penalty past Frei.

Most painful loss for Brian Schmetzer

After the match, Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer said that the loss was the hardest and most painful of his career.

“I’m actually at a loss for words because the players put everything into the game,” Schmetzer said. “You can’t fault them for effort, you can’t fault them for tactics, you can’t fault them for sticking together. They never quit. So you just thank them for the effort, for all the work they put in over a long season and just try and get them to individually take away all the good things they did during the season and try and build on that for next season.”

Schmetzer mentioned that Portland came in and did their job, while also applauding Gio Savarese, Timbers head coach.

“But, it’s horrible when you lose and it’s horrible when you come so close because we were close in the game,” Schmetzer said. “And then having our arch-rivals celebrate like they did on your home field, that hurts. So there’s a lot of emotion there within in the game. Some of the highs and lows make it a tough loss.”

“It’s definitely a draining, draining situation.”

Meanwhile, Seattle had a storybook run, starting on July 4 with a draw against the Colorado Rapids. After another draw against Atlanta United FC, Seattle embarked on a nine-game winning streak and an 11-game unbeaten streak, shattering an MLS record.

Despite just joining the team after the FIFA World Cup ended, Ruidíaz led the team in scoring with 13 regular-season goals. This season also saw beloved striker Clint Dempsey hang up his boots and officially retire.

What’s Next?

Seattle is officially out the playoffs.

Now, some players will enjoy the upcoming off-season, while others compete for their international teams. However, during the off-season, the Sounders will sit down with general manager Garth Lagerwey and elect which players will return.

Meanwhile, the MLS Cup playoffs will run until the championship game on Dec. 8.

PHOTO: Members of the Seattle Sounders group together for a pre-game talk from captain Ozzie Alonso, while fans hold a banner in the background. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

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