It was a win that crossed generations.
On one end, Sounders forward Fredy Montero continued to carve his legacy in the Cascadia derby against the Portland Timbers — an etching that began with his first goal in July 2011. On the other end, Sounders keeper Stefan Cleveland made his first start in the rivalry.
Bridging the gap Sunday — and ensuring a win for the ages — was Raul Ruidiaz.
The Sounders striker beamed a ridiculous goal off a free kick for the go-ahead score in the 55th minute, adding a brace later to help Seattle collect a 6-2 win at Providence Park.
“Playing in college and then Chicago early in my MLS career, you always hear Seattle-Portland, biggest rivalry in MLS,” said Cleveland, who finished with seven saves. “I love playing the away rivalry games. The energy from the crowd energizes me, and I can get that little extra motivation. … This is what this club does. We step up in big moments.”
The Sounders tied their total for goals scored against Portland since the derby began in 1975. Seattle won 6-1 in 1985 when the clubs were part of the Western Alliance Challenge Series.
Cleveland was peppered with shots, collecting five saves before the half-hour mark of the match. A deflection and a rebound shot popped overhead and into goal, but with two each from Montero and Ruidiaz and eye-popping scores from reserves Jimmy Medranda and Nicolas Benezet, the Sounders were able to withstand Portland’s pressure.
“We took our foot off the pedal a little bit,” Cleveland said. “At the end of the day, in the second half we showed up. We made sure to keep the ball, had composure. Our goals energized them because they didn’t want to get beat 2-nil here, at their home stadium. We took that energy in the second half and used it against them.”
The derby was pushed back two hours to 7 p.m. because of excessive heat in the Portland area last week. Temperatures hovered around 80 degrees even after sundown. And the match was even hotter.
Seattle’s physical play was rewarded early. Montero was in the box in the 13th minute to punch in the game’s opening score off a rebound.
Montero whipped in his second goal in the 29th minute. The picturesque shot was a left-footed attempt from outside the box to give the Sounders a 2-0 lead.
Providence Park was rowdy. The stadium’s first sold-out crowd since March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and seating restrictions, had a large and boisterous Sounders following.
Even as Timbers midfielders Sebastian Blanco and George Fochive leveled the score with goals in the 32nd and 52nd minute, respectively, the Sounders contingent kept Providence Park lively.
Ruidiaz had his second score in the 72nd minute. It brought him to 10 goals all-time in the rivalry, tying Roger Levesque for most all-time. The Peruvian also regained the MLS Golden Boot lead with 13 strikes this season.
“It’s not just the quality of the goals that Raul scores,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It’s the timing of when he scores them. We needed that. We needed that goal from Raul (in the 55th minute) to get us back on top. … He scores timely goals at the right moment. And, of course, he’s a showman and he pulls out the highlight reel goals on a week-to-week basis.”
Medranda volleyed in a score off a Joao Paulo corner kick in the 77th minute. Benezet, who was signed from Colorado at the close of the summer transfer window, polished off the scoring in second-half stoppage time.
The Sounders (10-3-6) inch up to second in the Western Conference standings. This week, the club travels for games at FC Dallas (Wednesday) and Columbus Crew (Saturday).
Coupled with last week’s 3-0 win against Tigres UANL in the Leagues Cup tournament, the Sounders feel they’re past a recent slump. The club was 1-3-1 in its previous five MLS matches, conceding six goals.