The Seattle Sounders salvaged a dramatic 1-1 draw in their Thursday night Cascadia rivalry matchup with the Portland Timbers thanks to a clutch late equalizer from Will Bruin.
Andres Flores scored just 10 minutes into the contest to put Portland on top – a lead the visitors would hold until the game’s waning moments. Then, three minute into second-half stoppage time, Bruin came to the rescue with a close-range finish off a corner kick from João Paulo, ending the contest in a 1-1 stalemate.
With the result the sides remain tied on 32 points atop the Western Conference table, with Seattle holding the top spot on the goal differential tiebreaker and also possessing a game in hand.
After Flores’ early goal, Seattle pressed for an equalizer throughout the second half, only to see a flurry of good chances either go just high or wide of the post. But Bruin ensured Seattle would get a point out of it, scoring his first league goal of the season after João Paulo’s corner kick deflected in front of goal, allowing the veteran striker to pounce for the leveler.
BRUIN IN THE CLUTCH
This was undeniably a tough game, and for a while it felt like the equalizing goal might never materialize. But the Sounders showed plenty of moxie in finding the late goal, with Bruin delivering in a huge moment. While three points would have been ideal, sometimes you have to gut out results when you’re dealing with fixture congestion and depleted depth, as Seattle is that the moment. In that sense, the Sounders can take a positive in keeping their spot at the top of the West.
Seattle have been shorthanded in their last few games as defender Xavier Arreaga, midfielder Gustav Svensson and striker Raúl Ruidíaz have all been gone on international duty. Shane O’Neill has filled in admirably in central defense, and Bruin was the hero of Thursday’s proceedings, but those are still three starters and key contributors Brian Schmetzer has been operating without. Once those players have cleared all the necessary protocols, they should be able to rejoin the club ahead of the late push.
CRUNCH TIME IS HERE
It all comes amid the stretch run of the season, and the Sounders are right in the mix to get that coveted first seed in the West. With just four games left, it’s about staying there ahead of the postseason with an eye toward another MLS Cup run. Their first opportunity to do so comes in another Cascadia match, this time against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 27 (JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).