Five Moments in Portland-Seattle Cascadia History: 1975 NASL playoff victory
Editor's Note: With the Portland Timbers hosting the Seattle Sounders at JELD-WEN Field on Sunday in a Cascadia Cup clash (2:00pm PT, ESPN, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), we're taking a look throughout the week at some of the memorable moments that have occured over the near 40-year history of the Portland-Seattle soccer rivalry.
Moment #5: Tony Betts' header in overtime sends capacity crowd into delirium
In their inaugural NASL season, the Portland Timbers compiled a 16-6 regular season record as well as playoff victories over the Seattle Sounders and St. Louis Stars on their way to Soccer Bowl ‘75. The playoff match against the Sounders passed into legend when Portland’s Tony Betts headed home the game-winning goal in sudden-death overtime, giving the Timbers a famous 2-1 victory and the 31,000 raucous fans on hand at Civic Stadium--now JELD-WEN Field--reason to storm the pitch in celebration.
Portland won the 1975 Western Division Championship on the strength of a 10-game, home winning streak that stretched nearly the entire season and endeared the nascent team to the local community. The Timbers, according to an August 11 article by Sports Illustrated’s Pat Putnam, consisted mainly of “a group of yeomanly Englishmen, who assembled just a few days before the season opened and have since taken great delight in thrashing almost everyone.”
With all the fanfare leading up to the first ever playoff match between the Timbers and Sounders, Cliff McCrath of Seattle Pacific University coaching fame gushed in a pre-game interview, “Some of these people have been here all day waiting to get in. They’ve been in the stands at least two hours before game time, yelling and screaming and carrying banners. The air is electrified!”
Indeed, after goals from Portland’s Barry Powell and Seattle’s John Rowlands left the match knotted at one after regulation, the boisterous crowd could barely contain itself as the Timbers surged forward looking for the winning goal in front of what would eventually become the North End.
Finally, Timbers English winger Willy Anderson found space down the Sounders right flank deep into overtime and whipped in an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Betts, whose powerful header left Seattle goalkeeper Barry Watling no chance.
Betts’ goal sent the Timbers on to the next round of the playoffs with a 2-1 win over their rivals and brought the Rose City faithful out of the stands and onto the pitch to celebrate with their new heroes. It also left us with one of the great moments of a rivalry that has many more to come.