BMO Field holds many memories for Seattle Sounders FC supporters, both good and bad. MLS Cup 2016 is the joy of the club's first MLS Championship while 2017, well, we all know what happened last December. Wednesday evening wasn't exactly the rubber-match, being just a regular season match, but it was an important game for the Rave Green, coming in a difficult week of three games in nine days that includes last Saturday's match against Columbus plus road contests in Toronto and Portland.
A frustrating draw against the Crew started the week, heightening the importance of getting results in Toronto and Portland, and without Clint Dempsey and Ozzie Alonso making the trip East, supporter concern was evident entering Wednesday. With stars resting and multiple regular starters injured (Nico Lodeiro, Roman Torres, Victor Rodriguez) Head Coach Brian Schmetzer made a bold move sending out a 5-4-1 lineup against Toronto.
The back five featured Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson, and Tony Alfaro at the three centerback spots with Waylon Francis and Jordan McCrary at fullback. The midfield included Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Jordy Delem, Cristian Roldan, and Handwalla Bwana. And Will Bruin started at forward. Toronto, despite suffering multiple major injuries including to MLS Cup 2017 hero Jozy Altidore, still fielded a lineup that included stars Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vazquez, and Michael Bradley.
Needing a decent result, without a first-choice lineup, in a new formation, facing Goliath Toronto, yea, Wednesday evening stood as an uphill battle.
The Seattle Sounders marched into BMO and beat Toronto, 2-1.
Bruin, thanks to an outstanding move and pass by Wolff Eikrem, opened the scoring in the first half, and Bwana scored his first MLS career goal in the second half that doubled as Wednesday's game-winner.
With the victory, Seattle (2-4-2) moved up in the Western Conference table and now only sit three points back of the red line. The team sitting right below that red line? The Portland Timbers, currently at 11 points. We'll get to them momentarily.
Wednesday's victory was massive, and as Jackson Felts, Wade Webber, Pete Fewing, and Danny Jackson discussed on the postgame show (which you can listen to below), is perhaps the most important regular season win in Schmetzer's tenure as Head Coach. In this week, with that lineup, in that formation, in the home of the defending champs, that victory does more than give Seattle three needed points. It could be the match we all look back at as a turning point in the 2018 season that gives the Sounders the mentality and confidence they need to soar up the standings and contend for a third consecutive MLS Cup.
Now comes the 100th overall meeting between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. Clint Dempsey, Diego Valeri, Ozzie Alonso, Fanendo Adi, Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Blanco, and many others in the cast of this epic that takes places multiple times each year.
The Timbers are coming off a 1-0 victory over San Jose last week and did not have to play a mid-week game like Seattle, also preparing to play at the friendly confines of Providence Park. The Sounders, on the other side, rested Dempsey, Alonso, Kim Kee-hee, as well as Nouhou and will wait to see if any of their injured stars can return for the derby. Kelvin Leerdam and, now regular starter, Alex Roldan came on as second-half substitutes against Toronto as well.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday in Portland and the battle will, as usual, have moments of suspense and drama that you'd expect from [AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR SPOILER REDACTED]. For more thoughts on the match, listen to this week's episode of Sounders Weekly with Jackson Felts featuring Andrew Harvey, Garth Lagerwey, and legend Roger Levesque below.
Here is when, how, and who you can stream and hear Sunday's broadcast of Seattle vs. Portland:
When: Sunday, May 13th- Pregame at 12:30 p.m., kickoff around 1 p.m.
How: Listen on 950am, SportsRadioKJR.com, or the iHeart Radio App
Who: Matt Johnson and Kasey Keller on the call with Jackson Felts, Pete Fewing, and Wade Webber on Pregame and Postgame