The Seattle Sounders visit the rival Portland Timbers on Wednesday at Providence Park (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM). Here are three matchups to watch.
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. anybody
Raúl Ruidíaz doesn’t really care who you run out to try and stop him. And frankly, it doesn’t seem to matter much anyway. The Peruvian marksman has three goals and two assists in his last two matches and lives for the big games. He has seven goals and two assists in just seven career matches against Portland, and after being kept off the score sheet in the Sounders’ 2-1 loss a few weeks ago, he’ll be eager to add to his tally.
Joevin Jones vs. Jorge Villafaña
When Joevin Jones is on, there are few midfielders in MLS as dangerous at setting up teammates as the Trinidad and Tobago international. Jones has started the last two matches at right wing in a supplementary attacking role to the Sounders’ preferred left side that has paid dividends on both ends of the ball. Seattle has outscored its opponents 10-1 in those two contests, and Jones will look to continue this success on Wednesday against Timbers left back Jorge Villafaña.
Sounders center backs vs. Diego Valeri
Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse is one to watch for in his own right, but if the Sounders can’t stop Diego Valeri pulling the strings, then Portland could put just about anybody up top. Valeri has three goals and three assists in his last five appearances and is coming off an MLS Player of the Week performance. The onus defensively will ultimately fall to center backs Yeimar Gómez Andrade and Xavier Arreaga. Even though Valeri is a nominal midfielder, he operates best in Zone 14 and pulling opposing CBs out of position to either create space for himself or to set up teammates, both of which he is one of the best in the league at doing.