The Seattle Sounders picked up a massive victory over the Portland Timbers in their first match of the resumed MLS regular season, securing three points behind a brace from Raúl Ruidíaz and a late goal from Kelvin Leerdam.
The Rave Green were eager to kickstart the next phase of the campaign with a positive result. Portland drew first blood in the derby, though, with outside back Chris Duvall firing a rocket into the top corner, only for the goal to be called back upon Video Review.
Seattle enjoyed a much brighter start after the halftime break, with Nicolás Lodeiro and Jordan Morris combining well down the left-hand side. That pressure paid off in the 72nd minute as Raúl Ruidíaz scored a first-time goal that seemed to defy the laws of physics, redirecting a low, driven cross with the outside of his boot into the underside of the crossbar and over the goal line.
Portland nearly leveled the score three minutes after Seattle’s opener, but Stefan Frei produced a heroic save, pushing Sebastian Blanco’s close-range shot beyond the far post. Frei’s save proved pivotal in the 82nd minute as Ruidíaz capitalized on a defensive miscue from the Timbers to burst into the box and calmly lifted the ball over the goalkeeper.
Leerdam iced the match in the 85th minute as he bombed forward and smashed home a squared pass from Ruidíaz, making it 3-0 to the Rave Green.
With three points against a bitter rival under the belts, the Sounders face a quick turnaround before heading to Southern California to take on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
RUIDÍAZ LOVES PLAYING PORTLAND
Ruidíaz put on a masterclass against the Timbers.
His first goal was a moment of individual magic, producing a mind-boggling touch that utilized the pace of Joevin Jones’ cross to lift the ball over the goalkeeper from close range. It was the type of goal that makes you smash the rewind button on the remote, frantically trying to figure out how it went into the back of the net. Ruidíaz’s second, however, was the product of sheer force of will, harassing Portland’s center back into a mistake and casually chipping the goalkeeper. And with an opportunity to complete his hat trick, he made the selfless – and correct – decision to square the ball for Leerdam to finish off the match.
From six MLS matches against the Timbers, Ruidíaz now has seven goals and two assists. Seattle’s talismanic No. 9 can now stake a claim as the greatest villain for Portland in the Sounders-Timbers rivalry since Clint Dempsey.
YEIMAR THE REAL DEAL
One of the club’s biggest offseason signings, center back Yeimar Gómez’s start to life in Seattle has been a bit of a stop-and-start affair, battling injury and the jilted start to the regular season due to COVID-19. Playing in his first derby match against an in-form Timbers attack, Gómez showed precisely why the Sounders wanted to bring him to the Pacific Northwest, marshaling the back line and keeping Jeremy Ebobisse extremely quiet. His center back partner, Shane O’Neill, also put in a solid shift, with Gómez dominating in the air and providing cover as O’Neill stepped forward to defend on the front foot.
Following a disappointing showing at the MLS is Back Tournament, Seattle needed to show that their performances in Orlando weren’t representative of the current squad. With three goals, three points and a clean sheet against Portland in tow, the Sounders kicked off the resumed regular season in the best possible fashion.