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It hasn’t been the most exciting start to the year for Portland. After kicking things off with a couple of decent Concacaf Champions League results, the Timbers have now only accumulated one win in their last five games in all competitions.
Just days later after taking part in a mid-week defeat, they’ll now have to face their bitter rivals, the Seattle Sounders.
Seattle have been exceeding expectations, and following an impressive run in the early stages of the 2021 MLS season, the momentum seems to be leaning in their direction.
Seattle for the win ( +135)
|Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders Information|
|Teams||Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders|
|Location||Providence Park (Portland, Oregon)|
|Time||Sunday, May 9th at 3:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||ABC, ESPN Deportes|
It was probably a bit too easy to be fooled by Portland’s first two games of 2021.
In a Concacaf Champions League series against Honduran minnows CD Marathon, the Timbers kicked off the year with an eye-catching 7-2 aggregate victory over two legs. Good omen or not, their success was short-lived.
Portland lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in their following MLS season-opener in April, and although they then claimed a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo next, the victory remains as their singular win in their previous five matches.
Credit should be given to them for their busy schedule that has included mid-week CCL matches, but nonetheless, they’ve had serious difficulties in recent weeks.
Tired and lacking motivation, Portland will now have to face their rivals that are on a short yet incredible run of form.
The results speak for themselves: A 4-0 win over Minnesota United, an impressive 1-1 draw with LAFC, and recently, a 3-0 thrashing of the LA Galaxy.
Ahead of Week 4, no MLS team has scored more goals than the Sounders. Carried by their well-balanced squad that have brushed off the absences of key figures from 2020, Seattle have been highly entertaining to match.
Under the recognizable leadership of Brian Schmetzer, they haven’t needed much of an adaptation period with their chemistry and finishing in front of the net.
And in their draw with LAFC, some could even make the argument that they were worthy of getting a narrow win.
It isn’t easy traveling to the historic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, losing 3-1 during the Wednesday match, and then needing to fly back home to immediately prepare for a high-profile rivalry game just days later.
Portland are in an unenviable position.
Four days after using some of their best against Club America in the CCL, they’ll now have to somehow find enough power and strength to stop arguably the top team of the MLS season so far.
Which isn’t to say that it isn’t possible. Anything can happen in a rivalry series, but that said, it’s tough to feel hopeful for the side that are coming off a busy schedule and a winless run.
And most notably, they might not have much luck stopping a striker that already has four goals to his name this MLS season.
Ruidiaz can do a little bit of everything. He can dribble, he can shoot from distance, he’s got pace, he can connect short passes, and can also win a surprising amount of balls in the air.
He’s a perfect and versatile figure for the Sounders, and with the Peruvian up top, they’ve so far been incredibly efficient in the final third.
As mentioned earlier, he also has four goals to his name in just three appearances. The 30-year-old has been a godsend since arriving in 2018 and given time, he’ll probably become Seattle’s all-time leading goalscorer.
In recent years, and perhaps looking forward in the near future, you shouldn’t bet against the Peruvian goalscorer.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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