The MLS is Back Tournament Champions met the reigning MLS Cup Champions in an empty Providence Park on Sunday. The Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers played their first match since returning from the bubble in Orlando. Both teams wanted to make a statement. Portland wanted to prove the victory in the bubble wasn’t a fluke and Seattle wanted to make it known they were still a force to be reckoned with after a less than impressive MLS is Back showing.
The rivalry kicked off with a bang. Chris Duvall thought he had scored his first MLS goal in three years after his left-footed rocket bulged the top corner of Stefan Frei’s net. It would have been a contender for goal of the season, but Eryk Williamson was offsides when the preceding free-kick was taken.
Immediately after the disallowed goal, the Timbers pressed and possessed well. They were on the front foot. They forced Seattle into dangerous turnovers with their fervent pressing throughout the first half.
Seattle responded with their own spell of pressure but were unable to capitalize. Both teams looked cautious as the half continued. The best chance of the half came in the dying moments when Sebastian Blanco cut the ball back to Diego Valeri in the 18-yard box. Valeri fired the ball over the bar and the half ended 0-0.
Seattle opened the second half, winning a couple of corners. On one of the corners the ball found its way to Gustav Svensson’s feet, but he launched Seattle’s best opportunity of the night over the crossbar.
The game opened up as the second half progressed. There were chances at both ends but Seattle and Portland were unable to capitalize in the final third. Raul Ruidiaz had two great opportunities to put the Sounders in front but was unable to give Seattle the lead.
Despite his misses, he used the outside of his boot to fire the ball off the bar and off Steve Clark to make it 1-0 in the 73rd minute.
In the 83rd minute, Larrys Mabiala miss controlled a Frei long ball which allowed Ruidiaz to get in on goal. He calmly chipped it into the back of the net to double the Sounders lead. He continued to haunt the Timbers as he provided an assist to Kelvin Leerdam who made it 3-0.
Felipe Mora thought he had scored a consolation goal in stoppage time, but the Timbers had a goal ruled out for offsides for the second time tonight in the 3-0 loss.