All tied up with nothing: Seattle and Portland play to scoreless draw
Local player Toia gets start for Timbers
On Wednesday night, the stands of Kino North Stadium were dominated by two shades of green as fans of the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders were decked out in their favored teams’ jerseys. They were excited to see another edition of a storied rivalry, but they didn’t see any goals.
The night ended with the Timbers and Sounders in a scoreless draw.
Portland’s opening line-up featured Aljaž Ivačič, a Slovenian goalkeeper who had served as the team’s third choice in 2021. The team’s goalkeeper rotation is going to look very different this year with starter Steve Clark moving to Houston and the retirement, announced last week, of main back-up Jeff Attinella.
Ivačič had several good saves in his 45 minutes on the field, including one in the first minute of the match. Seattle’s starters included fifth year player Raúl Ruidiaz and new signing Léo Chú as an attacking tandem.
Neither was able to score, but both got some time to build a partnership that will no doubt be the Timbers’ starting forward combo in March.
Portland’s second-half group included several academy players along with new goalkeeper signing David Bingham.
Seattle waited until after the 60th minute to put a second line-up on the field that featured several players from lower division affiliate Tacoma Defiance, including Sam Adeniran, who played for Tacoma last year but signed for the mothership club in December.
Adeniran and longtime forward Will Bruin had several chances, particularly in the last fifteen minutes, but Portland’s Bingham was up to blocking the few shots that were on-frame.
Preseason matches like this are really high-intensity training exercises. Winning is nice, but the important part is getting the players time on the field to get into shape and get used to each other. Still, the lack of scoring was a mixed bag.
“I wish we would have given them at least a goal,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said after the match. “It’s great. Listen, this crowd here seeing Seattle versus Portland, it doesn’t matter who is playing for Seattle and Portland, it’s a rivalry…some of our academy players dream of being able to play, and they played against Ruidiaz and (Albert) Rusnák…it’s a great night.”
“I heard a little bit of the Portland four or five or eight,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer joked about the substantial presence of the Tucson chapter of the Timbers Army. “I thought we had some good opportunities to score…but we didn’t have that one bit of quality to get in the back of the net.”
Tucson native Donny Toia started for Portland at left back. He was cut from Real Salt Lake at the end of last season, but got the call from Portland last Friday and started training with them.
Toia was one of two unsigned Portland players that was on the field last night.
“I got another opportunity and I’m just trying to take full advantage right now,” said Toia. “I thought I did pretty well. I had some minor mistakes, but I can adjust.”
Portland’s back line was anchored by Zac McGraw.
Many of Seattle’s attacks came at the right side of the line, which left Toia to mark players rather than go in with tackles.
“I think that was ‘cause of me,” Toia joked about Seattle avoiding his side of the field. “They have a lot of moving parts, Seattle. They can create chances anywhere…it’s good for me, less running, less work, but I want that work to show what I’m capable of.”
“I thought he did well today,” said Savarese. “We have to see a little more…great person, an unbelievable human being.” Seattle will remain in Tucson and will have a match against Colorado Rapids on Feb 1. Portland’s next preseason match is against Sporting Kansas City in Chandler on Feb. 3.