Ross Smith, Timbers vs. Seattle, 3.11.10
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

#ThrowbackThursday | When the USL Portland Timbers defeated the MLS Sounders in Seattle

In 2010, the Portland Timbers were part of the lone season of the USSF D2 / USL pro league. In preparation for that season, Portland traveled to take on its traditional Cascadian rival, the Seattle Sounders, for a preseason exhibition Community Shield match. 

Seattle was entering its second season in MLS while Portland was still a year away from the top tier league in American soccer. More than a full month before Portland's first regular season match, the game took place on a rainy March 11, 2010 night at then-Qwest Field, in front of a drenched 18,606 fans. 

Despite being a preseason friendly, both teams fielded near first-choice lineups. Seattle started the likes of Kasey Keller, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, and Freddy Montero while Portland countered with future MLS players such as Futty Danso, James Marcelin, and Stephen Keel. Additionally, 2010 season captain Ian Joy made his debut for Portland and the match also featured future Timbers soccer analyst Ross Smith.

Timbers goalkeeper Steve Cronin was called upon early and often on his way to a six-save evening. Cronin's first major save came when he denied future Timbers player Steve Zakuani from short range in the 16th minute. A few minutes later the Timbers goalkeeper again stopped Seattle from taking a lead when he batted away a Freddie Ljungberg free kick. 

With Cronin constantly under pressure, the Timbers were unable to sustain many attacks in Seattle's end. However, Portland made the most of its opportunities. Moments before halftime, trialist OJ Obatola punctuated a counterattack by placing a shot around Keller to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Obatola's goal sent the traveling  Timbers Army into delirium.

Obatola's goal was the only shot on target that Portland had on the evening. Despite this, the Timbers almost added a second late in the match when George Josten beat Keller with a shot only to be denied by the woodwork. Minutes later, Cronin denied one final chance from Montero to preserve the shutout. Timbers players walked away with a commemorative silver platter from the victory.

The match was the last time an USL/A-League/USSF version of the Timbers played in Seattle and marked the beginning of the club's final non-MLS season.