Sounders best Timbers 2-1 for Cascadia Cup

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Cristian Roldan and Raul Ruidiaz each scored and the Seattle Sounders defeated the Portland Timbers 2-1 Friday night to secure this season’s Cascadia Cup trophy amid a fan protest over Major League Soccer’s ban on political displays.

Jordan Morris assisted on both goals as the Seattle Sounders (12-8-7) moved into second place in the Western Conference.

The Timbers (11-11-4) have lost their last two games after falling last week 2-0 to reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC at home. The Timbers sit in seventh place, just above the playoff line.

The game was marked by the protest of MLS’s new policy that prohibits political displays at games. The Timbers Army and Emerald City Supporters fan groups remained silent for the first 33 minutes of the game due to a ban on flags showing the anti-fascist Iron Front symbol, which MLS says has become politicized.

When the clock hit 33:01, Timbers fans broke out into a chant based on “Bella Ciao,” an Italian protest song, and some fans for each team defiantly waved flags with the prohibited Iron Front logo.

“When you’re on the field, sometimes you lose focus on the crowd because you feel concentrated on the game, but obviously you could hear after they started singing,” said Timbers defender Jorge Villafana. “They have their reasons. We just have to focus on our game.”

Ahead of the planned fan protest, the starting players for the Timbers and the Sounders posed together for a pre-game photo with banners that said “anti-racist” and “anti-fascist.”

“I know that this club is against racism and against fascism,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I know that; I believe that with everything that I do. That little bit of support that we’re trying to show to find some middle ground between the fans who are upset and angry (about the policy) — I believe that we erase some of that stuff that out there in the world. I was proud of the guys for doing that little ceremony before the game.”

With the win, the Sounders secured their sixth Cascadia Cup, tying the Vancouver Whitecaps’ all-time record. The Timbers have won it four times.

The Cascadia Cup was created by supporters of the Timbers, Sounders and Whitecaps, and is awarded to the winner of the head-to-head matches between the three teams each season based on points.

“It’s important for the fans,” Schmetzer said. “The rivalry between the three franchises is a big one. It’s something that we take seriously and the fans take it seriously. We’re very happy.”

In the 22nd minute, Morris crossed a ball into box that bounced off teammate Ruidiaz and into the path of Roldan, who tapped it past Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark. It was Roldan’s fourth goal this season.

Two minutes into the second half, Morris tallied another assist, crossing the ball to Ruidiaz, who fired a shot from the middle of the penalty box for his 10th goal this year.

Diego Valeri scored for the Timbers in the 54th minute via a free kick that that ricocheted off Ruidiaz and into the goal.

Valeri, who has seven goals this season, is the only active MLS player and the sixth player league history to record 75 goals and 75 assists in league play.

The Timbers nearly equalized in the 58th minute when a Valeri strike and a Cristhian Paredes header forced two quick saves out of Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

In the 80th minute, the Timbers thought they equalized on a Brian Fernandez strike, but it was called back after a video review showed he was offside on the play.

“Once frustration starts coming around, that’s the moment when impatience takes away the moments (to score) that were created,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We had a lot — a lot — going on in this game. We should’ve capitalized more on those opportunities.”

The win was the Sounders’ first in five games. They had been winless and had allowed multiple goals in each of their previous four games.

Seattle has a 10-8-6 lead all-time in regular season meetings with Portland since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011.

Spanish midfielder Emanuel Cecchini made his debut for the Sounders in the second half. He was signed on Aug. 8 via a loan from Spanish second-division side Malaga.

The Timbers were without usual starting defender Larrys Mabiala, who injured his hamstring on Aug. 14 in a win over the Chicago Fire. The Timbers have not said when he is expected to return.

The Sounders were still without Victor Rodriguez, who has been out since July 6 with a hamstring injury.

Up next, the Timbers host Real Salt Lake on Aug. 31. Portland will play seven of their last eight matches of the season at home. The Timbers played their first 12 games of this season on the road due to an expansion of Providence Park, which added around 4,000 new seats.

The Sounders host the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sept. 1.