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Recap: Still the Kings of Cascadia

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Sounders return to MLS action with a win over their rivals

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

For long stretches of Sunday night it looked like the Seattle Sounders would be grateful to come home from their trip to Portland with a point. That gratitude was magically transformed into greed in the 72nd minute when Raúl Ruidíaz performed a bit of wizardry as he struck a ball from Joevin Jones off the crossbar. That ball bounced off of Portland Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark’s back and into the goal, giving the Sounders a 1-0 lead. The Sounders never looked back. Over the ensuing 13 minutes, Ruidíaz added another goal and an assist, powering Seattle to an admittedly surprising 3-0 win in both teams’ first game since the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament.

The game could have been completely different with a few different or worse decisions from the officials. In the 5th minute Portland appeared to have taken the lead when Chris Duvall hit an absolute banger from outside of the box to clean up a Timbers set piece, but Eryk Williamson was correctly ruled offside with the help of VAR. Then in the second minute of second half stoppage time Stefan Frei came up with a big save before Felipe Mora appeared to have pulled one back for Portland but was ruled offside. Regardless of missed chances or boring play from the first half, Seattle got goals from Ruidíaz and Kelvin Leerdam to go along with their three points, and they’ll be happy with that haul.

Key Moments

5’ — VAR rules Eryk Williamson offside on a would-be Timbers goal. 0-0

11’ — Decent attacking combination earns Seattle their first corner of the game.

15’ — Steve Clark has to collect the ball off of Ruidíaz’s feet to thwart a promising attack following a lovely flick from Jordan Morris.

40’ — Seattle’s first shot comes as Gustav Svensson takes a rip from well outside the box, but his shot is blocked.

41’ — Stefan Frei makes a diving save to deny Sebastian Blanco

45’ — Diego Valeri has the best look of the half as he gets the ball near the penalty spot, but his shot is easily over the goal.

48’ — Cristian Roldan beats a couple of Portland defenders on the dribble before earning a corner.

49’ — On the ensuing corner Gustav Svensson finds himself with a golden opportunity in the middle of the box, but he shoots high.

58’ — Stefan Frei comes up big at the near post to deny Marvin Loría the opener.

69’ — A Timbers turnover leads to Morris with the ball at the top of the box, who hits a ball that ends up at the feet of Nico Lodeiro. Ruidíaz’s shot off of the ball from Lodeiro goes wide.

72’ — Joevin Jones plays a ball from the left wing to Ruidíaz inside the box. Ruidíaz redirects the ball into the upper left corner of the goal, the ball comes off the crossbar and ricochets off of Steve Clark’s back for the opening goal. 1-0 Sounders

75’ — Portland get a quick chance to equalize, but Frei denies Blanco to maintain the lead.

83’ — Ruidíaz adds to his tally. Will Bruin flicks on a ball from Stefan Frei, and when the Timbers CB misses the ball Ruidíaz is able to perfectly control it before driving at and eventually chipping the ‘keeper and a defender. 2-0 Sounders

85’ — With the chance to make it a hat trick, Ruidíaz instead opts to play provider as he sets up Leerdam for the dagger. 3-0 Sounders

90+2’ — Stefan Frei and the assistant referee combine to preserve the Sounders clean sheet.

Big Takeaways

Ruidíaz is rolling! After a lackluster MLS is Back Tournament, the Sounders needed Ruidíaz to find his scoring form as they return to MLS action. It turns out playing the Timbers was just the boost he needed, as he stacked up two goals, an assist, and plenty of good movement and link-up play throughout. Those two goals and assist add to an already impressive haul in games against Portland, and continue a tradition of Sounders strikers scoring golazos against the Timbers.

Everyone loves a clean sheet. Coming into tonight’s game, a Portland-Seattle clash had rarely involved either side being kept off the score sheet. In Stefan Frei’s 20 games against Portland as a Sounder, he’d only kept four clean sheets. With Seattle’s recent defensive woes, keeping Portland from getting a goal that counted was a significant achievement, and should go some ways to helping build confidence in their defensive unit.

Not all trophies count the same. Much was made about the fact that the Timbers had lifted the oddly-proportioned trophy that came with winning the MLS is Back Tournament. In a way this match was a Community Shield, of sorts, but Seattle showed that the MLS Cup trophy they hoisted at the end of 2019 showed more of who they are as a club than any performance in a bubble at Disney World during a global pandemic ever could.

One stat to tell the tale

9 — Seattle took 9 of their 10 shots from inside Portland’s 18-yard box. Six of those were on target, and three of them were goals.

The game in one gif

Goals are good, winning in Portland is great, but nothing tops stealing a person’s soul.

Quote of the day

I think we all needed to know that.