Timbers comeback attempt falls short

TUKWILA, Wash. – Late goals from Byron Alvarez and Shaun Higgins weren’t enough to erase a three-goal deficit and the Seattle Sounders dealt the Portland Timbers a 4-2 loss before 3,204 Friday night at Starfire Sports Complex.

Alvarez collected his fifth goal of the season for the Timbers (5-6-4, 19pts) and Higgins tallied his first professional goal in the losing effort.

The loss snapped a four-game, regular-season winning streak in Seattle that dated back to the 2003 season.

The two clubs play a rematch on Tuesday, July 12 at PGE Park in the third round of the 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The winner of that match will host the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS on Aug. 3.

The Sounders (7-2-4, 25pts) put the Timbers on their heels in the 19th minute of play when midfielder Gabe Sturm caught the Portland back line out of position and capitalized, sending a shot past goalkeeper Josh Saunders and into the left side of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Seattle was awarded a penalty kick in the 30th after Saunders was carded for taking down Roger Levesque in the box, but Portland dodged a bullet when Welton Melo squandered his attempt off the crossbar.

The Sounders struck again in stoppage time of the opening half when defender Taylor Graham pushed forward and bounced a shot downward off his head and into the net.

Seattle continued the scoring in the second half and Levesque rang up his fourth goal of the season with a point-blank header that looped over the top of Saunders in the 56th.

Portland didn’t get on the board until the 60th minute when Alvarez dialed in a penalty kick after Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar was taken down inside the box by Seattle defender Billy Sleeth.

The Timbers trimmed the deficit later in the 68th, as Edwin Miranda delivered a perfect cross into the path of Higgins, who flicked the feed off his head and inside the far post.

Seattle added a fourth and final goal in the closing minutes on corner kick from former Timber Andrew Gregor that found the head of Graham for his second goal of the evening.

The Timbers continue their two-game road trip in Kelowna, B.C., where they’ll do battle with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. Kickoff is 7 p.m. (Pacific).

TIMBERS NOTES: Friday’s match was nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel … the game was moved from Qwest Field, the Sounders’ regular home pitch, to Starfire Sports Complex due to the Gold Cup … more than 100 members of the Timbers Army made the trip north to cheer their club on … longtime Timber Jake Sagare entered the match for Seattle in the 88th minute. SCORING SUMMARY: Sturm, 19’ (Levesque); Graham, 45’ (Sturm); Levesque, 56’ (UA); Alvarez, 60’ (PK); Higgins, 68’ (Miranda); Graham, 89’ (Gregor).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: POR Saunders, YC (30’), Lines, YC (41’), Alcaraz-Cuellar, YC (83’); SEA Sakuda, YC (32’), Sleeth, YC (48’).

LINEUPS: PORTLAND (5-6-4) J. Saunders GK, Thompson D, Wilkinson D, Morrison D, Miranda M, Winters M, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Higgins M, Antoniuk F, Alvarez F; SEATTLE (7-2-4) Burpo GK, Edwards D, Graham D, Sleeth D, Scott D (Whitfield 61’), Sakuda M, Sturm M, Klaas M, Somoza M (Chacon 76’), Levesque F (Sagare 88’), Melo M (Gregor 61’).