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Mar 16, 2013

Timbers earn draw on late goal

SEATTLE -- Rodney Wallace came open in the penalty box and headed in the tying goal at the beginning of second-half stoppage time, and the Portland Timbers came out of Seattle with a 1-1 draw with the rival Sounders on Saturday night.

Eddie Johnson tapped in a perfectly placed cross from Steve Zakuani in the 13th minute and Seattle held the lead until Wallace scored right at the end of the 90 minutes as stoppage time was beginning. Seattle failed to clear the ball from danger and Andrew Jean-Baptiste's centering pass found Wallace completely uncovered.

The matchup of the Cascadia foes was the centerpiece of what Major League Soccer dubbed "Rivalry Week." And it was Portland getting an important draw in the competition between the Sounders, Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps for the Cascadia Cup.

Johnson's goal was his second this week after he scored the series winner in Seattle's 3-2 aggregate victory over Tigres in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. He has five goals and an assist in seven Cascadia Cup games. It was one of the easier goals Johnson has scored in his time with Seattle, mostly because the pass from Zakuani was perfect. Zakuani collected a sloppy midfield turnover from Diego Chara and quickly raced toward the Portland net. His left-footed pass was perfectly placed out of the reach of Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and directly onto the foot of Johnson who was making a late run behind the defense.

But his goal, and the debut of new designated player Obafemi Martins was overshadowed by the late defensive breakdown that allowed Wallace to score his first goal of the season. Portland now had two draws in three matches played in Seattle since the Timbers joined the MLS in 2011.

Seattle was trying to take the lead in the Cascadia Cup competition that Portland won a year ago. As if Seattle needed any reminders, the large contingent of Timbers fans that made the three hour trip up Interstate 5 on Saturday they brought with them a banner reading "Cascadia Champions 2012."

Portland very easily could have come out of Seattle with a victory if referee Kevin Stott had decided to award a penalty kick midway through the first half. Portland's Ryan Johnson was taken down from behind by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the penalty box. Although Hurtado got some of the ball, he also took down Johnson.

The no-call on the possibly penalty kick and Diego Valeri's free kick early in the second half that rattled the crossbar from 25 yards turned out to be the best of the Timbers' scoring chances until Wallace's stunning goal.

Martins made his debut with the late in the second half. Martins was acquired from Spanish club Levante and only arrived in Seattle on Friday evening. He was greeted with a huge ovation from the 40,150 in attendance and nearly helped give Seattle a 2-0 lead, but his pass for Johnson late in the second half was just out of reach. That missed connection proved important when Wallace scored a few minutes later.

Martins was scheduled to leave Sunday to join the Nigerian national team in a World Cup qualifier against Kenya next Saturday.

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