It's always entertaining when the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers get together.
That should again be the case when the Cascadia rivals meet for the first time this season in MLS action Sunday night at Seattle, where the Sounders look to remain undefeated.
The Sounders (10-5-5) lead the all-time, regular-season MLS series 10-7-6 between these clubs. However, Portland (7-8-4) beat them 2-1 in U.S. Open Cup play at Tacoma, Wash., on June 12.
"This will definitely be a different match," Timbers defender Jorge Moreira told his club's official website. "Every player likes to be part of a game like this, and we all know what it implies."
In that U.S. Open Cup match, Brian Fernandez scored two of the nine goals he's recorded over all competitions since joining the Timbers this season. However, he does not have a goal in his last three league matches.
Trying to make its way above the playoff line in the Western Conference, Portland ran its league unbeaten stretch to four matches (2-0-2) with a 1-1 home draw with Orlando City on Thursday. Jeremy Ebobisse's goal, assisted by Fernandez, in the 82nd minute leveled the match and ultimately enabled Portland to earn a point.
"We need to continue to get points," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "We want to continue to look at how to get in the playoff zone. We're getting closer and closer. A win (Thursday) would have put us in a situation right there. So, that's why it's important for us to go (to Seattle) and get points."
Firmly entrenched in playoff position in the West, the Sounders will try to match a season high with their third consecutive victory. Raul Ruidiaz scored in the 58th minute and Harry Shipp recorded the go-ahead goal in the 71st as Seattle improved to 8-0-2 at home in league play with a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United FC last Sunday.
That also happens to be the best home start in Sounders history. Ruidiaz, meanwhile, has a team-leading seven goals in MLS action this season, and three in as many matches.
"(Ruidiaz is) an instinctive goal scorer," Shipp, who has three goals this season, told the Sounders' official website. "No matter what, if he's got the ball at his feet in the box, you always think there's a chance he's going to score a goal. Which is a characteristic for guys in any league in the world."
Ruidiaz has three goals in three matches versus Portland, all coming during the 2018 conference semifinal - won by the Timbers.
Updated July 19, 2019