The Seattle Sounders ended their winless streak in MLS play with an emphatic 6-2 win away against the Portland Timbers on Sunday night. The first half was tense and physical, but the Sounders went into halftime having made the best of their chances to take a 2-1 lead courtesy of a poacher’s finish and a left-footed curler from outside of the box from Fredy Montero.
They left no doubt in the second half after the Timbers scored a second goal to tie the game. A brace from Raúl Ruidíaz that included a rocket of a free kick, as well as a golazo from Jimmy Medranda and a celebratory debut goal from Nicolas Benezet rounded out the scoring.
The Sounders rode waves of pressure throughout stretches of the game, depending on Stefan Cleveland’s heroics to keep them in the game during the first half. Cleveland tied a career-best as he recorded 7 saves in this game, including a number of absolute show-stoppers. Nico Lodeiro got his first significant run out since his return from injury as well, subbing in and having an immediate impact on how the team played. Four of the team’s six goals came while he was on the field, and the whole team had a bit more pep in their step with Lodeiro on the field. This win puts the Sounders back in second in the West, a point behind Sporting Kansas City with 36 points through 19 games. Their road stretch continues on Wednesday when the Sounders travel to face FC Dallas.
9’ — Stefan Cleveland comes off his line well to cut out a ball to Yimmi Chara, then cleans up the rebound before another attacker can run onto it.
13’ — Fredy Montero pokes home the opener following a cross from Alex Roldan after Raúl Ruidíaz’s rebound is kept alive. Timbers 0, Sounders 1
21’ — Cleveland comes up big again, this time to deny Felipa Mora a chip. He does well to secure the ball after his swat to deny the Timbers forward and put an end to the play.
29’ — Montero picks his spot from the outside corner of the box, cuts in to take a touch and swings his shot into the far post to double the lead! Timbers 0, Sounders 2
32’ — Sebastian Blanco runs onto a ball into the Sounders area and his deflected shot bounces up over Cleveland and into the net to cut the lead. Timbers 1, Sounders 2
52’ — Cleveland comes up with a save on the initial shot after a corner kick, but his rebound falls to George Fochive whose shot bounces off the turf and over Cleveland to even the score. Timbers 2, Sounders 2
55’ — Ruidíaz regains the lead with a laser free kick from just outside of the box that’s hit straight into the far top corner! Timbers 2, Sounders 3
72’ — Nico Lodeiro takes his turn and nearly gets a goal off of a free kick, but after a quality save Ruidíaz is the first to the rebound and puts it away to stretch the lead! Timbers 2, Sounders 4
78’ — João Paulo’s service goes clear through the box to an on-rushing Jimmy Medranda, whose left-footed volley rips in off of the top corner! Timbers 2, Sounders 5
94’ — Nicolas Benezet with No. 6! Benezet gets in behind the defense with plenty of time off a feed from Cristian Roldan and puts the ball under the ‘keeper to close the game out! Timbers 2, Sounders 6
It’s good to have Nicolas Lodeiro back! It turns out that having your best player on the field improves how your team performs. The Sounders did more than just hold their own with the Captain out while dealing with an injury, but it’s clear that they’re even better when Nico’s on the field. You can forget how hard he works and how weel he covers ground when you’re not watching him week in and week out. With Lodeiro on the field, though, the Sounders kicked into a higher gear and were hitting speeds they hadn’t reached this season. It’s no coincidence that the team scored four goals after he subbed on. The Sounders now have six goals in his 99 minutes on the field.
Stefan Cleveland is good, y’all. Stefan Cleveland put on what was likely the best display the young goalkeepers shown since stepping into the starting spot. Cleveland has been a very good ‘keeper in Stefan Frei’s absence and has clearly shown why the Sounders were interested in bringing him into the club in the first place. Not only did he have a career-high seven saves, but they were impressive and important, and came in a variety of different ways. Cleveland is likely to be forced back into a backup role when Frei returns from his injury, but he’s likely too good to stay there for too long one way or another. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other MLS teams come a-calling in the off-season with substantial trade offers.
Only getting better: Both of the previous talking points touched on the same topic: players returning from injuries. The Sounders just got back one of the best No. 10s and all-around midfielders and players in the league, they’re about to get one of the best GKs in the league back, Nouhou’s working his way back, Jordan Morris too. On top of that, Nicolas Benezet just joined the team and already has a goal, Léo Chú is on his way, and young guys like Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva just keep improving. This team hit a slump. Now they’re coming out of it and they’re going to be even better than they were to start this season. MLS teams should be scared.
Did you see that?!?
Jimmy Medranda only scores bangers.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer on any changes they made: "Even when Portland came back 2-2 there was never any panic." pic.twitter.com/hqlMvfYJFe— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 16, 2021
One stat to tell the tale
2 — there were 2s all around - Ruidíaz and Montero both had braces, João Paulo had two assists, and Jimmy Medranda scored his second Sounders goal, a second volley against his second Cascadia team.
Man of the match
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