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Sounders finally get over Timbers hump, are riding momentum of recent unbeaten run

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The Seattle Sounders have won three of their last four matches and are unbeaten in that stretch in all competitions. Following a 2-1 road win at the rival Portland Timbers on Sunday, Seattle has finally earned the statement victory it’s been searching for through the early stages of the season.

On paper, the Timbers are in a tough position. They’re winless in nine and finish the weekend last in the Western Conference. But this is a Sounders team that had not beaten Portland in their last six meetings (0-4-2) dating back to 2021 and were desperate to get one over their oldest and most abhorred rival.

“I wouldn’t say relief, I would say excitement,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan, who equalized for Seattle just four minutes after Portland opened the scoring. “You beat your rival, you put yourself in a position to ride the momentum that we’ve been needing. For us to not only win on the road, but put that type of performance of grittiness, of belief, to defend our lead is something that we’ve been needing.”

For Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, it was a personal matter as well.

“[Former Timbers coach] Gio [Savarese] was my nemesis,” he said. “He had taken it to me, so it was a good way to start with Phil [Neville].”

In many ways, Sunday’s win was the inverse of nearly every contest Seattle has played this season. The Sounders typically create myriad chances, dominate possession and put themselves in good positions to score. But they are underperforming their Expected Goals by 2.95, which is the fourth-worst in MLS.

Against Portland, the Sounders compiled just 0.4 xG but found the back of the net twice. It’s also the first time since last July that Seattle won after conceding first.

“There are times where we hesitate to make a final decision,” said Roldan. “Raúl \[Ruidíaz\] definitely had [shooting] in the back of his mind as soon as he got it. I definitely had that with my first touch. My intention was to get a shot off. It wasn’t the cleanest, but if you don’t shoot you don’t score. We have to be decisive in those moments, and those moments haven’t been coming.”

The opportunities to keep this momentum moving are approaching fast and strong. The Sounders will have a quick turnaround before a Wednesday match at Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake (6:30 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV) before heading home for another Cascadia clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday (TICKETS).

While the Sounders will thoroughly enjoy this weekend’s win, they’re hoping it will serve as a springboard to continue to climb the table.

“We’re three points from the playoff line, that pressure is still there,” said Schmetzer. “We’re still too far down the standings for our liking. But you go to Philly and get points, you come here and get points. You have 120 minutes of kids gritting it out [in the U.S. Open Cup]. I can sense that the group is finding its form.”

Added Roldan: “The loser of the game was going to be in last place [in the Western Conference], so there was added emphasis to win the game. The motivation was definitely there. We don’t want to be in last place. We feel we definitely have a good enough team to compete for trophies this year.”

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