The Seattle Sounders' unofficial opening salvo in the Great Northwest MLS rivalry didn't close as well as they'd hoped.
In the 21st minute, a rain-soaked Kasey Keller seemingly stopped a shot on goal only to have the ball lay up a few feet in front of him as he watched it rocket to the back of the net off of Timbers forward Jorge Perlaza. Most assuredly this goal was weather-related.
However, the Sounders did nothing to earn a victory—weather-related goal or not.
The Sounders' playing style hasn't changed this year. There are still spots of unbridled excitement riddled in between many minutes of passing the ball around on defense.
Speaking of defense, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is now back in the lineup. He had an up and down night, mixing a few good plays with some bad.
Most notably on defense, though, was the play of Jeff Parke.
Parke made plenty of mistakes, but he was slow to correct them and was constantly in the wrong place. Most remarkably—aside from providing zero cover for the aforementioned goal—Parke allowed several balls to run right past him and across the middle of the goal.
It's a wonder Keller is losing his hair.
If Sounders coach Sigi Schmid insists on playing everything out of the back, it'll be important that he solidify the middle of the defense.
On a more positive note, the midfield was looking good. Ozzie Alonso picked up right where he left off last year and Alvaro Fernandez looks stronger than ever. Still, there were several times throughout the game that they were playing heads down and missed some golden opportunities to get the ball to a wide open Steve Zakuani.
Hopefully they'll review the tapes and improve this quickly.
Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo had solid games, though they had difficulty finishing. Nkufo looks like he's lost a few pounds. Midway through the second half, it appeared Nkufo was injured and he seemed to slow down. Alternately, he looked frustrated and that may have been the cause as well.
The final ended 2-0 with a last-minute goal by Timbers forward Kenny Cooper. Starfire Sports stadium was sold out, with 3,100 in attendance. It's possible that it is now time for the Sounders to find another place to play these games.
While a great facility, Starfire is not equipped to handle events that can draw many more thousands. The crowd was oppressively close, but at least was under cover for the rainy night.
The Sounders face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. The Community Shield is played on Wednesday at Qwest Field and will feature the US Open Cup Champion Sounders facing the MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids.
The MLS regular season opens March 15th when the LA Galaxy visit the Sounders.