Each Major League Soccer matchday in 2021, the KeyBank Scouting Report will give you this snapshot of the Portland Timbers’ next opponent. On Saturday, rival Seattle Sounders FC return to Goose Hollow. The game kicks off at 12:00 p.m. PT on ABC. You can check on ticket availability here.
The Sounders have been the best team in Major League Soccer over the season’s first three weeks. Starting the 2021 season with a new formation — switching to a three-centerback look in lieu of the two they used before — Seattle has two wins and a draw through three games. They have also outscored their opponents eight to one. The Sounders are first place in MLS’s Western Conference and one of two teams with seven points through the season’s first three weekends.
No team has outscored the Sounders so far this season, with Seattle sitting in a three-way tie (with New York City FC and the San Jose Earthquakes) at the top of the league’s team scoring charts. Last season, Seattle finished with 44 goals, only three behind league-leading Los Angeles FC.
The goals come from …
Peruvian attacker Raúl Ruidíaz has been one of the league’s best forwards since his move north from Mexico. His four goals this season push him to 37 (in 56 games) in his MLS career. He has scored at least 10 goals in each of his previous three MLS seasons.
… and the goals come through
In addition to starting an extra centerback, the Sounders’ formation switch allows them to start a forward alongside Ruidíaz. That forward has been Will Bruin, with the veteran leading the team in assists (two) while ranking second in key passes (five). Midfielder Cristian Roldan leads the team in key passes (eight) while the team’s normal attacking engine, midfielder Nicolás Lodiero, has been limited by injury. The Uruguayan, who has 58 assists in 122 career regular-season appearances, has been limited to 24 minutes thus far in 2021. Lodeiro made his first appearance of the season last week against the LA Galaxy and will likely see more time in Portland.
Only one team, Columbus Crew SC, has allowed fewer goals than Seattle this season, and the Crew have played two 0-0 draws. The only goal the Sounders have conceded came on the road and against the team with last year’s best attack, LAFC. It’s currently been 178 minutes since an opponent scored against the Sounders.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is in his eighth year with the Sounders and 13th in MLS, overall. A backup during his last two years in Toronto, Frei engineered a resurgence after moving to Seattle. He has since established himself as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the league. Through three games this season, Frei has saved 90 percent of opponents’ shots on target.
This week's facts are courtesy of Mike Donovan, who provides a glimpse of each week's action on Monday. This section will be updated with the Timbers' injury report once it's distributed by the club.
- After his mid-week goal in Mexico. Diego Valeri is now up to 98 goals and 200 combined goals and assists in all competitions as a Timber.
- Valeri has also been trouble for the Sounders. His nine assists against the Timbers' rivals are more than any other MLS player has posted against Seattle.
- From Donovan's Monday post, this week: "When the Timbers take on the Sounders it will be the 112th match between men's soccer club teams from Seattle and Portland. The series started on May 2, 1975."
- Finally, this will be the 100th meeting all-time between teams Portland- and Seattle-based named Timbers and Sounders. Both teams have won 14 times in MLS.