For the first time since May 2017, the Seattle Sounders did not lose to the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field. For three consecutive regular season games, and one playoff series, Portland came to Seattle and left with positive results. Finally, however, the streak ended on Thursday when Will Bruin scored at the death to give the Rave Green a point in the derby.
In the 93rd minute, midfielder Joao Paulo sent in a corner from the southwest edge of the field, the team's eighth of the night. As the ball sailed over the head of Jordan Morris and three Timbers, centerback Yeimar Gomez Andrade positioned himself to flick the ball onward to Bruin at the back post, who buried it into the back of the net for the late equalizer. For the veteran forward starting in place of Raul Ruidiaz, the score marks his first goal of the 2020 MLS regular season. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
“Yeah, got to make it dramatic," Bruin said after the match. "You know, that was I believe my first full 90 [minutes]. That’s why I get frustrated sometimes when I sub out, because I know there’s always a chance at the very end, and you know that play, that corner kick, that was something that [Brian Schmetzer] was really telling me. He was like, ‘Make sure you get back post because a ball always end up falling there.’ And as long as you have somebody there you see a lot of goals scored in that area, and it ricocheted over there and I was just in the right spot at the right time and, you know, I’ll take any goal.”
After a first half where the Sounders only mustered three shots, none on target, and lost Jordy Delem to an injury suffered during a collision with referee Ismail Elfath, hope for a point seemed slim in a battle for the top of the Western Conference. The second half, however, saw a far different squat hit the field and create multiple outstanding chances at goal.
"At halftime we just reset and said, ‘No, this is how we play, this is how we line up, this is where you guys need to be.’ And I think it worked," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said.
From a missed chance by Morris near the start of the half, to a miss-hit header by Kelvin Leerdam in the 68th minute, to a skied volley by Nicolas Lodeiro in the 73rd, it slowly started to simply feel like Thursday wasn't going to be Seattle's night. Before the Bruin goal, the Rave Green sent 14 total shots towards, well, anything but the Portland net. But finally, that 15th shot went on target and into the goal, giving Seattle the 1-1 result and single point that keeps the club at first place in the Conference.
Thursday's bout between the top two teams in the West marked the fourth game between the rivals in the 2020 regular season with Seattle coming away with a win, draw, and two losses. If the Sounders and Timbers face off again this year, it will come in the post-season, set to begin in mid-November.
As Seattle continues to hold the top spot in the conference heading into the weekend, the club will now shift their focus to their other Cascadia rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are currently operating out of Providence Park in Portland with United States MLS clubs unable to travel to Canada. Vancouver will host the Sounders in Portland next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Tune in on 950 KJR AM, including a 6:30 p.m. Pre-Match Show ahead of kickoff.
Sitting just two points below Seattle on the West table is Sporting Kansas City (30) who will have the chance to jump the Sounders and Timbers for first place when they play the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening.
As for the Rave Green's dramatic draw on Thursday, check out highlights from the match, including Bruin's late equalizer, plus KJR's Postgame Show with Kasey Keller, Wade Webber, and Jackson Felts, both below!