PORTLAND — The Portland Timbers prioritized defense during the summer transfer window, bringing in reinforcements on the backline by signing veteran center back Steven Taylor and Lithuanian left back Vytas.
But both players sparked the offense Sunday afternoon.
Taylor and Vytas both scored their first goals for the Timbers as Portland (9-10-8, 35 points) beat the Seattle Sounders (9-12-4, 31 points) 4-2 in a key rivalry game in front of 21,144 fans at Providence Park.
The win might have been Portland’s most important victory of the year and halted Seattle’s recent momentum.
Portland remained in sixth place in the West with the win, moving four points ahead of the Sounders and just three points behind fifth place Sporting Kansas City with seven games left in the regular season.
Entering Sunday’s game, the Timbers had scored just one goal over their last two matches. But it didn’t take long for the offense to come alive at home against the Sounders Vytas, who Portland signed in July, headed in a cross from midfielder Diego Valeri in the 16th minute to give the Timbers an early 1-0 lead. Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei got a hand to the header, but sent it off the crossbar and into the net.
Timbers forward Fanendo Adi, who was scratched from the lineup after missing the team flight up to Seattle last week, then made the most of his return to the starting 11. After Frei saved back-to-back shots from Valeri and Adi, the Nigerian striker finally put the ball into the back of the net, giving the Timbers a decisive 2-0 lead. Adi leads the Timbers with 13 goals this season and is tied for fifth in MLS in goals scored.
Portland continued to dominate Seattle to close out the first half, outshooting the Sounders 14-4 (8-0 on target) in the half.
Timbers winger Lucas Melano scored his first goal since June when he sent a sliding shot into the net off a cross from Diego Chara in the 29th minute. Taylor, who Portland signed in early August, then headed in a free kick from Valeri to give the Timbers the 4-0 lead.
But things turned quickly in Seattle’s favor in the second half. Taylor deflected a shot from Sounders midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz into the net in the 47th minute and Seattle forward Jordan Morris headed in a cross from Nicolas Lodeiro four minutes later to close the gap.