Well that escalated quickly. The Seattle Sounders dropped three late goals on the host Portland Timbers in just 13 minutes at Providence Park on Sunday night, quickly turning a closely-fought match into a 3-0 romp.
For the defending champion Sounders (3-1-2, 11 points), the win marks a needed break from a generally middling-at-best string of performances dating back to February’s elimination from CONCACAF Champions League.
Sounders’ Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz likewise hasn’t operated in top form for much of 2020, but the Peruvian striker was everything on Sunday, scoring twice and assisting on the Sounders’ third goal.
Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 72nd minute from a seemingly impossible angle, redirecting a Joevin Jones cross off both the post and goalkeeper Steve Clark for the 1-0 lead.
He completed his brace just 11 minutes later, collecting a botched clearance and driving into the penalty area before floating a chip shot past Clark and defender Chris Duvall.
Ruidiaz then helped put the match to bed in the 85th minute, laying off a ball to Kelvin Leerdam at the edge of the 6-yard box for the 3-0 win.
It was a disappointing return to league play for the Timbers (3-2-1, 10 points), winners of the MLS is Back tournament in July. The hosts were not without chances, though. The Timbers outshot the Sounders 12-10 on the night and forced goalkeeper Stefan Frei to deliver a quality save in the 75th minute to protect a 1-0 lead.
The hosts even seemed to take the lead in just the fifth minute courtesy of a long-distance Duvall half-volley, but Eryk Williamson was ruled offside on the play.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Raul Ruidiaz. Much like a certain retired forward from Nacogdoches, Texas, Ruidiaz seems to save his best for the Sounders biggest rivals. He has now scored against the Timbers in five straight matches.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The Sounders’ first goal, which forced the Timbers to open up in search of an equalizer.
MATCH TO FORGET
Diego Valeri. The Timbers legend has scored seven goals and delivered 10 assists in 25 career matches against the Sounders, but just before halftime he sent a open, close-range look sailing into the stands.