Diego Valeri’s rare PK misses prove colossal in Timbers loss to Sounders

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Diego Valeri’s rare PK misses prove colossal in Timbers loss to Sounders originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

There are few rivalries that provide the intensity, competitiveness and magical moments of a Cascadia Cup clash between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders.

Sunday’s match at Providence Park lived up to the hype.

After both teams went scoreless in the first half, things heated up about 10 minutes into the second half. Jeremy Ebobisse had an opportunity to give Portland its first score of the night after he won a penalty kick following Shane O’Neill being called for a foul in his own box. Diego Valeri’s first attempt was saved by Stefan Frei, but the Timbers star  was awarded a rare retake after the referees declared Frei had come off his line too early.

Valeri failed to convert that goal attempt as well.

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“Sometimes you have days where you don’t get some things in your favor that you’re supposed to get, or you get them when they shouldn’t be given away,” coach Giovanni Savarese said after Sunday's match. “But you have to manage because that’s part of the game as well and people can make mistakes."

But things quickly went from bad to worse for the Timbers.

In the 63rd minute, Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring for Seattle on a penalty kick.

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Just four minutes later, Jeff Attinella was carted off the field on a stretcher and the Timbers ushered in 19-year-old goalie Hunter Sulte. Sulte, the team’s fourth-string goalkeeper, became the second youngest goalie to ever start in the MLS last week in Portland’s 4-1 loss to FC Dallas.

“He was there to make sure he supported us, and he did a fantastic job on his second match,” Savarese explained of Sulte. “But little by little, we hope we can have the goalkeepers healthy. We have to see to how the week goes and who we’re going to have next week. It’s unfortunate – how many times do you see three goalkeepers going down in the beginning of one season?”

Attinella took to social media following the game to thank fans for their well-wishes and to ask Timbers fans to keep the good vibes coming.

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Fredy Montero scored his first Sounders goal against Portland in nine years with a 79th minute header, but Timbers midfielder Bill Tuiloma denied Frei the shutout when he scored a consolation goal to soften the blow of the Sounders 2-1 win.  

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“It’s disappointing because we always want to be a team that wins every game, especially when you play Seattle,” Savarese said. “Today was a battle just like every single game we’ve played against Seattle and I think unfortunately, today, things didn’t go our way even though we were the better team on the field, even though we created good moments.”

After playing a stretch of five games in 15 days, Savarese noted the extensive minutes his players took on in recent games and the injuries Portland has battled came back to bite them. 

“I’m just really proud of my group because they give it all, all away until the end,” Savarese said. “Unfortunately, the score doesn’t show what we gave to the game because my team today played very well and for sure deserved more than what we got.”

Portland (1-3-0, 3 pts) is coming off a 3-1 loss to Club America Wednesday in Mexico City. The defeat eliminated the Timbers in the quarterfinals of the CONCAF Champions League. Next up is San Jose on Saturday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m.