PORTLAND – The Seattle Sounders got a first-half road goal from Raúl Ruidíaz but conceded twice in 12 minutes before the halftime break, giving the Portland Timbers a 2-1 advantage after Leg 1 of the Western Conference semifinals in the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Ruidíaz got Seattle off to a dream start with a cheekily taken finish off a feed from Cristian Roldan that beat Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, giving Seattle a 1-0 lead and a huge road goal just 10 minutes into the contest.
But Seattle’s first-half fortunes would reverse soon after, as Jeremy Ebobisse leveled the contest just seven minutes later with a well-taken finish of his own to finish off a vintage Timbers counter-attack. Sebastián Blanco then found the go-ahead tally in the 29th. To make matters worse for Seattle, both Roldan (groin) and starting center back Chad Marshall (knee) were forced to exit the contest before the halftime break.
Neither side struck after the half, ensuring the 2-1 scoreline would hold going into Leg 2 at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. PT (TICKETS).
It goes without saying that a Cascadia derby in the postseason is going to be a high-intensity affair but Sunday’s series-opener certainly lived up to the hype. The Portland crowd was a raucous bunch from the get-go, as were the hordes of traveling supporters that made the trip from Seattle. With only a single goal separating the sides after 90 minutes, expect more of the same come Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
Raúl Ruidíaz celebrates after scoring the opening goal vs. Portland Timbers / Mike Fiechtner
It would have been hard to imagine a worse injury scenario for the Sounders in the first half, with Roldan and Marshall each representing a key cog in the club’s week-to-week starting XI. Their status ahead of Leg 2 immediately becomes a crucial storyline to monitor in the coming week.
ROAD GOALS, ROAD GOALS, ROAD GOALS
Going down a goal after the first leg is never an ideal scenario, but with the away goals tiebreaker in effect for the postseason, Ruidíaz’s first-half tally could still prove highly consequential. Should Seattle keep a clean sheet at CenturyLink Field, they only need one goal of their own to level the aggregate and move through to the Conference finals.
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz (Cristian Roldan, Víctor Rodríguez) 10'
POR - Jeremy Ebobisse (Diego Valeri) 17'
POR - Sebastián Blanco 29'
SEA - Gustav Svensson (Unsporting Behavior) 85'