The Seattle Sounders dream start to the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs wasn’t meant to be.
Forward Raúl Ruidíaz had scored the opening goal just 10 minutes into the encounter, but two Portland Timbers tallies and subsequent injuries to Cristian Roldan and Chad Marshall left the Rave Green reeling in a 2-1 loss at Providence Park.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but at the end of the day we got a road goal,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer after the match. “That always helps, something to put in your pocket for later. We understand we have to win the game on Thursday. Those are the facts. I thought the team put everything into it.”
The Sounders lost arguably two of their most influential players in Defender of the Year finalist Marshall and do-it-all midfielder Roldan, but Schmetzer put to bed any fear of lengthy injuries to the duo.
“No ligament damage for Chad. He’s a tough kid – he’ll be back,” said Schmetzer. “Cristian is a right hip flexor on the penalty. He’ll be fine, too.”
Roldan, the first Sounders player in club history to start all 34 regular season matches, tried his best to play through the injury, but was unable to continue for the final 59 minutes.
Cristian Roldan acknowledges the traveling support after Sunday's match at Providence Park / Mike Fiechtner
“He couldn’t continue,” said Schmetzer. “They tried to do whatever they could to keep him on the field, that’s just, basically, a testament to Cristian not wanting to come onto the field. In the end, he couldn’t continue.”
Now, the Sounders prepare for a Leg 2 battle at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night with everything to play for.
Defender Kelvin Leerdam said that the team has been through adversity all season long and with a home crowd at their backs, there is reason for optimism.
“We go home, we’re strong at home, our fans will give us the extra push we need because they always do,” said Leerdam. “We can get a good result, I’m very confident.”
Added Schmetzer: “We lay out the realities. We have to win, but now we can win 1-0, 2-0 – that little bit is in our favor. But look, we have to go out in Seattle, score a goal, and try to win the game.”