SEATTLE (AP) Eddie Johnson scored his 14th goal of the season just minutes after an own goal gave Seattle the lead, Fredy Montero added another in the 62nd minute, and the Sounders raced past Cascadia rival Portland 3-0 on Sunday night before a record crowd of more than 66,000.
Johnson's goal in the 28th minute gave Seattle a 2-0 lead and helped the Sounders move into third-place in the Western Conference, two points clear of fourth-place Los Angeles. The fourth-place team in each conference must play an extra playoff game against the fifth-place team in the final regular season standings. Seattle is two points ahead of the Galaxy and three points behind second-place Real Salt Lake with games still remaining against Los Angeles and Salt Lake.
The official attendance of 66,452 was the second largest for a stand-alone match in league history.
The only other crowd to better Seattle's mark was the first match in league history when Los Angeles hosted New York at the Rose Bowl in 1996 in front of 69,255. Those in attendance for the latest installment of the Cascadia rivalry included MLS commissioner Don Garber, who jumped on a plane Sunday morning just to take in the atmosphere and was headed back to New York after the match on a red-eye.
``I knew this would be a historic event as it would lead in to this weekend. ... It's just another one of these great moments. We've been saying that a lot lately, but it's really true,'' Garber said.
It was the second-largest crowd to see a Sounders match, behind a friendly against Manchester United in the summer of 2011.
Seattle got the benefit of an own goal from Portland to take the lead when Mamadou Danso stepped in front of a cross intended for Montero in the 25th minute. Portland originally was charged with a second own-goal, this one by Jack Jewsbury, to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. But that goal was later changed and given to Montero with persistence likely the reason Montero earned his career-best 13th goal of the season. Montero was originally stopped twice by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and appeared to barely get his toe on the ball at the same moment Jewsbury got to it.
The result was the same, though; a three-goal lead in a match Seattle mostly dominated.
While two Seattle goals at least had the Timbers help, there was nothing but skill on Johnson's finish. Johnson made a quick cut to the middle of the penalty area where he was waiting for a long pass from Brad Evans on the wing. The pass was on target and Johnson took the short-hop and guided it past Ricketts with his left foot.
Johnson, who tweeted on Friday night he had received a call-up to the U.S. national team, ran over near a section of Portland supporters holding a finger over his lips while the remaining 65,000-plus fans erupted in celebration.
Seattle put itself in position to retain the Cascadia Cup as well. The Sounders said this week that avoiding the No. 4 seed in the playoffs was the priority, but claiming bragging rights over the Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps is nearly as important. Seattle now has nine points to lead the competition between the three teams and thanks goal differential, Portland must win at Vancouver later this month to claim the cup. A draw or a Vancouver victory would keep the regional trophy in Seattle.