Depleted Timbers force draw with Sounders

PORTLAND, Ore. - Defender Scott Jenkins struck for the match’s first goal, but it was Shaun Higgins and the Portland Timbers who got the last laugh on a late equalizer, earning a 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders before 8,292 Saturday night at PGE Park.

Despite only three position players on the bench to start the game, along with a number of starters missing, the Timbers (7-7-8, 29pts) managed to collect a point and improve their unbeaten streak to six matches as they bide for a trip to the postseason.

With the rare draw between the I-5 rivals, the Timbers have either won or tied eight of their last ten league matches against Seattle (9-4-10, 37pts), dating back to 2003.

The night also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Timbers. A collection of former players and the team’s original president, John Gilbertson, were honored at halftime for their contributions in laying the groundwork for “Soccer City USA” when they played for the club in the NASL days of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In the first half, the Sounders accomplished a task they were unable to do in their last meeting with Portland - score a goal.

After Lee Morrison drew a yellow card for a foul outside the box in the 22nd minute, Jenkins broke free on the ensuing free kick from Leighton O’Brien and headed home his first strike of the season for the 1-0 lead.

In the 86th minute, Higgins took a cross from Tom Poltl inside the box and finished it with an emphatic right foot to level the score and avoid the team’s first home loss since June 30.

Edwin Miranda nearly equalized earlier in the 34th with a missile to the upper-near post from 25 yards out, but his effort was denied by a diving stop from Seattle goalkeeper Preston Burpo.

The northern rivals thought they added a second goal in the 52nd from Brent Whitfield, but officials wiped the tally away after a foul was called.

The Timbers head out on a four-game road swing through the South, beginning Saturday, Aug. 27, at Charleston. Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) and the match can be heard live at www.portlandtimbers.com.

TIMBERS NOTES: Saturday’s match marked the fifth-annual Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) Night at PGE Park … former Timbers in attendance at the 30th Anniversary Celebration included Willie Anderson, John Bain, Tony Betts, Jimmy Conway, Bernie Fagan, Brian Gant, Mick Hoban, Bill Irwin and Jimmy Kelly … a number of Timbers sat out tonight’s game, as Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar left the team for personal reasons, Byron Alvarez served a one-game suspension for drawing too many cautions, Scot Thompson continues his trial with Sunderland AFC in England and was not available, while Jarrod Weis sat out with a torn MCL … Gavin Wilkinson left the match in the first half with an hamstring injury and was replaced by Higgins.

SCORING SUMMARY: Jenkins, 22’ (O’Brien); Higgins, 86’ (Poltl).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: POR Morrison, YC (22’), Higgins, YC (67’); SEA Gregor, YC (24’), Levesque, YC (82’).

LINEUPS: SEATTLE (9-4-10) Burpo GK, Scott D, Graham D, Klaas D, Jenkins D, Whitfield M, Sakuda M, O’Brien M (Somoza 45’), Sagare M (Sturm 71’), Levesque F, Gregor F; PORTLAND (7-7-8) Saunders GK, Goldthwaite D, Wilkinson D (Higgins 20’), Morrison D, Marcum D, Poltl M, Miranda M, Lines M, Winters M, Conway F, Antoniuk F.