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Cristian Roldan scores early, Sounder beat Timbers 1-0

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei leaps to knock a ball over the cross bar during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Portland Timbers, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) — Cristian Roldan scored on a header off a corner kick in the fourth minute and the Seattle Sounders held on to beat Portland Timbers 1-0 on Saturday.

The first of three matchups in the regular season between the Cascadia rivals landed on a sun splashed afternoon where the quality of the weather exceeded the soccer. There were chances on both ends, but only Roldan was able to find the back of the net even as he was being hugged from behind by Portland defender Zarek Valentin.

Roldan's first goal of the season was a reactionary flick after Chad Marshall initially directed Nicolas Lodeiro's corner kick toward the goal. Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was frozen by the redirection from Roldan.

Seattle (4-5-4) won its second straight match, while the Timbers (5-5-3) — once on top of the Western Conference — are winless in their last five matches. Seattle improved to 7-0-2 at home in the regular season against Portland and posted consecutive shutouts in the regular season for the first time since early 2016.

It was the first matchup between the heated rivals since Seattle joined its neighbors to the south in adding a gold star to its crest as MLS Cup champions. It was a point of pride the Timbers held over the Sounders for one year, but Seattle has gladly pointed out in the months since beating Toronto last December that advantage is no more.

Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei was rarely tested despite Portland taking 19 shots, but only three of the shots were on goal. Frei posted his 31st shutout since joining Seattle, bettering Kasey Keller's franchise record. The Sounders beleaguered defense that has struggled for most of the season was outstanding in never letting Portland striker Fanendo Adi or midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri have clean looks at goal.

Seattle's best defensive sequence came midway through the first half when a trio of attempts inside the penalty area never reached Frei after being blocked by Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall and Osvaldo Alonso.

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