It Sounders FC 15 minutes into the second half to waste another brilliant first half with sloppy, lethargic play. The collapse by the Sounders is eerie similar to the 4-2 Leagues Cup loss to Monterrey. In that game, a brilliant 20 minutes of tantalizing soccer saw the Rave Green take a 2-0 then walk into the halftime break tied 2-2
RUNNING AT DEFENDERS
Saturday night against the Timbers the Sounders were active from the gate with Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz, Leo Chu and making runs that opened the middle for Albert Rusnak and Joao Paulo. Rusnak’s ability to find pockets just in front of the Timbers center pairing of Zac McGraw and Dario Zuparic. The brilliance of the Sounders attack saw Chu and Morris making runs down the flanks and the middle of the Timber’s defense which was struggling to keep up Rusnak and Ruidiaz.
With the Sounders front five causing havoc in the Timber’s defense it was a matter of when not if they would score. And score they did nine minutes into the game. A Rusnak corner kick was flicked to the back post where a running Ruidiaz niftily header the ball into the Timbers goal. In addition to playing creative football, the Sounders played stifling team defense. The defensive midfield pairing of Paulo and Obed Vargas was the catalyst for the stifling defense. The defensive duo was aided by Nouhou and Cristian Roldan covering any overlapping Timbers offensive player.
The synchronized patient Sounders defense produced the Rave Green‘s second goal in the 30th minute. A pinched middle inside Chu intercepted a Diego Chara pass intended for Cristhian Paredes, knocked the ball to Ruidiaz who chested the ball to the streaking Chu. The Brazilian poked the ball forward and kept running until he slammed the ball into the back of the Timber’s goal. Chu stripped his shirt off during the celebration and was awarded a yellow card. The Timbers stepped up their high press looking for an equalizer before the break. A wild scramble inside the Sounders goal box saw a Felipe Mora strike blocked and a wide-open header cleared from the goal line by Paulo. The let-off should have been a wake-up call for the Sounders It was not. A Jordan Morris to Albert Rusnak combination should have killed the game with another goal. Rusnak‘s shot from the left side was wide of a streaking Ruidiaz and the goal.
The Sounder’s lack of concentration on both ends of the pitch not only continued but worsened into the second half. The compact middle for the Sounders became stretched and opened holes for the Timbers attack. With the Sounders concentration waning disaster struck in the 53rd minute when Chu received a second yellow. Five minutes later Nicolas Lodeiro replaced Raul Ruidiaz to fortify the Sounders midfield.
TRIO SUB TIPS THE SCALES
The change looked good on paper, but it disrupted the already fragile cohesion of the Sounders mid-block and backline. Obed Vargas was left on an island when it came to defending on rushing Timber forwards. Portland’s trio substitution of Darion Asprilla for Cristina Paredes, Franck Boli for Felipe Mora, and Sebastian Blanco for Yimmi Chara unnerved the Sounders. The speed and fresh legs of the substitutes saw the Sounders chasing shadows. Gone was the communication and unselfish play by the Sounder player. Sounder killer Asprilla put the Timbers on the board with his first touch of the game at the 67th-minute mark. A wonder strike by Evander three minutes later shattered any chance of the Sounders securing three points. The Sounders hung on for the tie and split the spoils.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
All season long the Sounders have struggled defending the set pieces. Asprilla’s goal was a well-executed throw-in and Evander’s goal exposed the Sounder’s inability to track back and play defense after a turnover. The other Sounder’s Achilles heel this season has been finishing games when the opponent is struggling. A third goal before the half or would have done that. A lack of concentration to start the second half allowed the Timbers to climb back into the game and that was before Chu’s second yellow.
- Following tonight’s result, Sounders FC moves into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference for at least one night, as third-place LAFC plays on Sunday. With 41 points, Seattle sits one point ahead of LAFC and six points behind first-place St. Louis in the West.
- With the draw, Seattle is eliminated from contention in the 2023 Cascadia Cup standings, as is Portland. Vancouver Whitecaps FC moves on to win the regional trophy contested amongst Major League Soccer’s three Pacific Northwest clubs (their first Cascadia title since 2016).
- Tonight’s contest was the 119th all-time matchup between Seattle and Portland dating back to 1975 in the original North American Soccer League. Seattle leads the all-time series 56-46-17.
- In the MLS era (since 2011 when Portland entered the league), Sounders FC moves to 14-14-9 in regular-season action against the Timbers.
- Scoring the match’s opening goal in the ninth minute of play, forward Raúl Ruidíaz recorded his fifth tally of 2023, good for second on the squad in scoring (Jordan Morris, 10 goals).
- Dating back to 2018, Ruidíaz now has 78 goals in all competitions for the Rave Green, just one strike behind teammate Fredy Montero for the all-time club lead in scoring.
- Ruidíaz’s strike was his 12th in 16 matches against Portland, the most goals netted by a single player against any MLS opponent since the Peruvian’s league debut in July of 2018 (regular-season and MLS Cup Playoffs combined).
- Albert Rusnák earned a secondary assist on Ruidíaz’s goal via his corner-kick service (his fourth of the season), with teammate Jackson Ragen recording the primary assist for heading the ball onto the Peruvian (also his fourth of the year).
- Netting the second goal of the match in the 30th minute, Brazilian attacker Leó Chú recorded his fourth goal of the year, accompanying his nine assists on the campaign.
- Ruidíaz recorded the assist on Chú’s goal, his first of the year.
- Portland’s Dairon Asprilla’s hot hand against Seattle continued on Saturday night, with the Colombian recording his sixth goal against the Rave Green (regular season and MLS Cup Playoffs).
- Mariners have plenty to do to repair their reputation
- After a mini-break, the Seahawks set sights on a rematch with the 49ers.
- Mariners make the first move at Winter meetings, trade Marco Gonzales, Jarred Kelenic, and Evan Wither
- Seattle Storm to Host Draft Lottery Party Sunday at Rough & Tumble Pub
- BREAKING: No.2 Huskies to play No. 3 Texas in College Football Semi-Final Game at Sugar Bowl
Seattle Sounders FC 2 – Portland Timbers 2
Sunday, September 2, 2023
Venue: Emerald Queen Casino Pitch at Lumen Field
Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistants: Michael Barwegan, Logan Brown
Fourth Official: Lukasz Szpala
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
Weather: 82 degrees and clear
SEA – Raúl Ruidíaz (Jackson Ragen) 9’
SEA – Léo Chú (Raúl Ruidíaz) 30’
POR – Dairon Asprilla (Zachery McGraw 67’)
POR – Evander (Juan Mosquera 70’)
SEA – Léo Chú (caution) 31’
SEA – Léo Chú (caution, ejection) 53’
POR – Dairon Asprilla (caution) 68’
SEA – Joao Paulo (caution) 76’
POR – Sebastian Blanco (caution) 82’
POR – Dario Zuparic (caution) 90’+4’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Alex Roldan, Yeimar, Jackson Ragen, Nouhou; João Paulo (Reed Baker-Whiting 84’), Obed Vargas (Josh Atencio 71’), Jordan Morris, Albert Rusnák (Xavier Arreaga 71’), Léo Chú; Raúl Ruidíaz (Nico Lodeiro 58’)
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Ethan Dobbelaere, Paul Rothrock, Fredy Montero, Héber
Total shots: 14
Shots on goal: 7
Portland Timbers – David Bingham; Dario Zuparic, Eric Miller, Zachery McGraw, Juan Mosquera; Evander, Diego Chara, Cristhian Paredes (Dairon Asprilla 67’), Yimmi Chara (Sebastian Blanco 67’); Felipe Mora (Franck Boli 67’), Santiago Moreno
Substitutes not used: Aljaz Ivacic, Miguel Araujo, Claudio Bravo, Bryan Acosta, Larrys Mabiala, Antony
Total shots: 14
Shots on goal: 5