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Sounders at Timbers, recap: Pain

Sounders give up a lead as Timbers steamroll their way to a 4-1 win.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Seattle Sounders made the trip down I-5 to play the Portland Timbers at Providence Park. Despite a good first hour and change, a late surge from the Timbers saw the hosts claim a 4-1 victory.

The first half was pretty even, with Portland taking more shots while Seattle created more danger. Léo Chú and Jordan Morris, playing on either wing, both routinely got into dangerous spots behind the fullbacks with teammates in support. Still, despite some close calls the two sides went into halftime tied 0-0.

From the beginning of the second half the vibe had changed as the Sounders fully turned the momentum in their favor. Within the first minute Morris had Portland on their heels. Seattle created chance after chance, finally finding the opening goal in the 58th minute. Obed Vargas made a great run to the end line before playing a slicing ball back through the box where Raúl Ruidíaz ran onto it and slotted it low and into the opposite corner.

Seattle continued to create chances, but Portland found the next goal. After sustained pressure from the Sounders, the Timbers found themselves in Seattle’s end and a ball from Santiago Moreno set up perfectly for Dairon Asprilla to smash home with a bicycle kick. Five minutes later Nathan Fogaca had Portland in front after beating Jackson Ragen and getting off a shot 1 v 1 with Frei that the ‘keeper got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

After that Portland piled on, Seattle continued to find chances, but while Seattle found chances the Timbers found goals. A goal from Jarosław Niezgoda as he followed up on a rebound after a Stefan Frei double-save, and a blast from the top of the box for fullback Juan Mosquera sealed Seattle’s fate as the game finished 4-1 in the Timbers’ favor.

Key moments

9’ — The Sounders first venture into the final third eventually yields a shot from Nico Lodeiro that’s easily caught by goalkeeper Aljaž Ivačič.

13’ — Léo Chú picks out a cross for Jordan Morris at the far post, but Ivačič rises over his own defender to swat the service away.

21’ — Chú, Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz link up as the Sounders play their way into Portland’s penalty area, but the final ball falls short of leading to a shot.

23’ — João Paulo plays Morris through with a great ball over the top, but Morris’s cross for Ruidíaz is picked out by Diego Chara.

34’ — Chú finds himself beyond his man once again and plays a ball to Ruidíaz near the penalty spot, but the first-time effort is well over the goal.

39’ — Once again Chú gets behind the defense, this time via a great run ad a good ball from Lodeiro, and his cross nearly finds Morris for a tap-in but it’s put out for a corner.

45’ — Portland gets one last look before halftime, but Stefan Frei is down quickly to make the save.

46’ — Morris gets the ball on the right and drives at the defense before unleashing a shot headed for the top corner, but the GK is able to paw it away for a corner.

50’ — A Sounders free kick finds its way to Yeimar on the weak side and the centerback lines up a shot, but his smashed effort has a bit too much on it and is over the bar.

58’ — Ruidíaz gives Seattle the lead!!! The striker runs onto a cutback from the end line played by Obed Vargas and slots it low into the far corner! 1-0 Seattle

60’ — Ruidíaz drives into the box and nearly makes it two for Seattle, but it’s kept out and the Sounders have a corner.

67’ — Morris gets out on a gallop behind the defense and plays a dangerous cross that just misses connecting with Chú as he crashes into the goal.

69’ — Another near miss as Morris is in behind once again, this time connecting with Lodeiro in a good spot, but the ensuing header is nowhere near goal.

71’ — After Seattle created plenty of chances and failed to capitalize, Dairon Asprilla levels the game with a bicycle kick. 1-1

76’ — Nathan Fogaca puts Portland ahead as he gets in behind and gets a shot off that Frei gets a hand to but can’t keep out. 2-1 Portland

81’ — Stefan Frei makes a save and fumbles the rebound. He is able to stop the immediate shot but can’t keep Niezgoda from putting it away to add to Portland’s lead. 3-1 Portland

89’ — Juan Mosquera dribbles to the top of the box and smashes a shot past Frei. 4-1 Portland

90’ +1 — Lodeiro nearly pulls one back, but the GK makes a strong save to give up a corner rather than a goal.

Quick thoughts

The Timber Killer: Death wasn’t quite what the Sounders served up in Portland, but the result doesn’t necessarily make Raúl Ruidíaz’s goal-scoring record against Portland any less impressive. His second goal of the season was his 11th in all competitions against the Timbers. He’s accomplished that feat in 14 appearances. No player has scored more in the rivalry.

Pain in Portland persists: Following this result, the Sounders still haven’t won in Portland since the raucous 6-2 win in 2021. The Sounders seemed every bit like the better team up until the 70th minute or so, following the withdrawal of Léo Chú for Héber. Through no real fault of Héber, following the change Portland were re-energized and punished Seattle for failing to capitalize on the many chances they had created. What seemed like a potentially routine win turned into a walloping, and Seattle’s struggles in Portland continued for another game.

For lack of Rusnák: It’s not the fault of Albert Rusnák, who missed the game due to pain in his heel, that the Sounders lost this one. Nor was it the fault of his replacement, Obed Vargas, who made his first start since missing the back half of 2022 with a back injury and the start of this season with a muscle issue, that the Sounders couldn’t put the game away after controlling the proceedings for 70 minutes before they got steamrolled in the final 20 minutes. But what Rusnák offers was in clear resolution without him on the pitch, as Seattle struggled to progress the ball and find creases in the Portland defense in the way they’ve consistently been able to with Rusnák roaming the midfield. Vargas played well, and had moments of incisive passing and decisive movement, but there’s still no one on the team who does exactly what Rusnák does. Hopefully he’ll be able to recover quickly and be back on the field helping the Sounders soon.

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One stat to tell the tale

3 — Since 2019, the Sounders have lost three regular-season games by three goals. Two of those have come against the Timbers.


Man of the match

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Obed Vargas
    (71 votes)
  • 25%
    Raúl Ruidíaz
    (87 votes)
  • 43%
    Léo Chú
    (150 votes)
  • 9%
    Jordan Morris
    (34 votes)
342 votes total Vote Now

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