True, the Cascadia Cup won’t be awarded this season.
But a trophy isn’t needed to remember the 2020 edition. An unprecedented four matches due to Major League Soccer zoning competition amid the pandemic — all played without fans — is unique enough.
For Sounders FC forward Will Bruin, it’ll be how he finally notched his first goal of the season in the waning minutes to save them from losing a third consecutive match to their rival.
Bruin scored an equalizer in stoppage time for a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field.
“I’ve got to make it dramatic,” Bruin said during a video-conference call with media. He suffered a season-ending knee injury last year. Thursday marked his first full match since June 2019. “That’s why I get frustrated sometimes when I sub out because I know there’s always a chance at the very end.”
Seattle (9-4-5) remains atop Portland in the MLS Western Conference standings. It’s the first time since the Timbers (9-5-5) joined the league in 2011 that the rivals were 1-2 in conference standings.
Bruin was waiting on the far side of a Joao Paulo corner kick, coolly watching as contact was missed by teammates. The ball came Bruin’s way and he booted in a right-footed shot with the side of his foot for the equalizer.
Midfielder Andres Flores had the opening goal in the 10th minute. Teammate Yimmi Chara helped create the play when his shot was blocked by Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.
The deflection headed toward Flores with Sounders defender Nouhou chasing after it. But not in time to play the ball, Flores powering a right-footed shot to the back of the net.
Thursday was Flores’ first match of the season and first goal since 2018. The Timbers excused Flores last summer so he could travel home to El Salvador to be with family after the passing of his father.
“They’re going to look at that goal and say it was a well-constructed goal,” Sounders coach Brian Schemtzer said during a video-conference call with media. “I felt it was too easy. We need to be a better team defensively. … We messaged that. We worked on it, and we still couldn’t prevent that goal. That, obviously was distressing.”
The Sounders welcomed the Timbers’ playing defensively in the second half and created multiple near-chances that grazed the net. Nouhou had an attempt go left in the 57th minute. Sounders forward Jordan Morris assisted Sounders captain Nico Lodeiro on a quality miss in the 73rd minute that went wide. Midfielder Joao Paulo took a long-distanced whack in the 84th minute that went high.
“If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll be all right,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said during a video-conference call with media. His side didn’t have a single shot on goal in the opening half. “We can’t have those first halves, especially at home.”
The Timbers, which won the MLS is Back tournament in Florida last summer, said the first derby against the Sounders was a motivator. The Sounders won 3-0 at Providence Park, snapping the Timbers out of their summer high.
Seattle’s rival has been hot ever since, only dropping three matches and defeating the Sounders twice — once at CenturyLink and once in Portland.
The Sounders played without leading scorer Raul Ruidiaz (Peru), midfielder Gustav Svensson (Sweden) and center back Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) because of international call-ups and quarantining upon return to the Seattle area.
Ruidiaz tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month but was asymptomatic and is expected to join training within the week.
Seattle was also without defensive midfielder Jordy Delem, Svensson’s reliable backup.
Delem was accidentally clotheslined by referee Ismail Elfath on Thursday and needed several minutes before being able to walk off the field on his own. Schmetzer substituted Alex Roldan into the match in the 30 minute. Roldan had a solid start in a scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.
“I’ve never seen one of our players get injured by running into the referee,” Schmetzer said. Delem has a neck injury that will be evaluated Friday. “It didn’t change our tactics. We were still going to play the same way. … Ismail is a good ref, I’m sure he didn’t want to do that. It’s just bad luck for Jordy.”