PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Sebastian Blanco scored the go-ahead goal early in the second half and the Portland Timbers won the Cascadia Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Friday night.
The Cascadia Cup is a three-way competition between the Timbers, Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps. It was created by supporters of all three clubs before they joined MLS. The Timbers needed a win or draw against Seattle to claim the title for the first time since 2017.
Dairon Asprilla also converted a penalty kick for the Timbers, who snapped a two-game losing streak as they fight to make the playoffs.
Yeimar Gomez scored for the Seattle, which also is clinging to playoff hopes with seven games remaining. The Sounders have never missed the MLS postseason.
“We played this game as a final,” Blanco said.
The Timbers rose above the playoff line into seventh in the tight Western Conference standings, with just six games left. The Sounders dropped to 10th.
“I personally wanted to win the cup and the players also wanted to win the cup, so I’m very content,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Anything that we can win, we want to win. So it’s a very special night, we can enjoy it a little bit. But then we have to understand that this is not our final goal because the goal is to qualify (for the playoffs) first and we still have to put more work in.”
It was the second of three straight road matches for the Sounders, who played to a 3-3 draw with the LA Galaxy last Friday. Portland was coming off of a 4-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
“I mean, it wasn’t the result that we came here to get. And now looking forward there’s games and we need to turn this page,” Seattle forward Fredy Montero said. “So that’s what we have right now. It’s going to be difficult.”
Gomez’s header off a cross into box from Alex Roldan put the Sounders in front in the eighth minute.
Portland pulled even in the 41st when Asprilla converted a penalty kick. He celebrated with a backflip.
Moments later Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei deflected Asprilla’s hard shot from distance and the match was tied at 1-1 at the break.
Portland took the lead early in the second half. Asprilla tapped Eryk Williamson’s free kick to an onrushing Blanco for the goal in the 51st. It was Blanco’s seventh goal of the season.
“We know that if we don’t win this game we are in trouble,” Blanco said.
Tempers flared late in the game, with some shoving in the 77th minute that resulted in a yellow card for Portland’s Zac McGraw.
Seattle defender Jackson Ragan nearly scored with a header off a corner in the 85th.
“This is the last run of the season, we have to come back together and now the next game that is in Orlando, we have to score goals, and at the same time prevent the other team to score on us,” Montero said. “That’s the only way to win games.”
The Timbers won the last meeting 3-0 in Seattle on July 9.
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