AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Portland outlasts Seattle in gripping playoff second leg

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Portland and Seattle staged a second leg befitting of their rivalry, as the Timbers knocked their rivals out of the MLS Cup Playoffs with a gripping win in Seattle early Friday.

A chaotic ending put the match in extra time, where Dairon Asprilla sent a bullet header into the back of the goal off a Diego Valeri cross to make it 4-3 on aggregate only to see a penalty make it 4-4 four minutes later.

Will Bruin hit the post with Seattle’s second penalty attempt and Jeff Attinella stopped Osvaldo Alonso on the next Seattle attempt. Stefan Frei stopped Liam Ridgewell‘s winning bid, but could only get a hand on Asprilla’s winning hit.

The triumph sets Portland up for a meeting with either Real Salt Lake or Sporting KC in the Western final.

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The Sounders entered the match down 2-1 but holding an away goal. That meant 1-0 would be enough for them to get into the conference finals, and an awful Portland mistake put them in the catbird seat.

Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella bungled a cross and left it on the doorstep for Raul Ruidiaz, who made it 2-2 on aggregate in the 68th minute. Seattle, as it stood, was headed back to the Western finals.

Enter Sebastian Blanco.

The Argentine took a lay-off from Dairon Asprilla and hit a low ball that caught Stefan Frei in a hard place.

Portland was back in front, though the Timbers were denied a bid to close the match out via Frei’s in-tight denial of Lucas Melano.

Stoppage time made it 2-1 to Seattle, when Ruidiaz unleashed this beauty following a weak headed clearing attempt from Blanco.

The match went to extra time, and Valeri’s long cross was met at the back post by the leaping Asprilla.

The score line stayed the same for less than four minutes, as a Blanco handball sent Lodeiro to the spot and the Sounders star did not miss his chance to make it 4-4.

Ruidiaz had a goal pulled back for a handball as the match continued to deliver drama en route to kicks.

Some Timbers players celebrated after extra time, apparently thinking they advanced via away goals (away goals in extra time are no longer a tiebreaker). That’s… problematic.

Peruvian forward Ruidiaz gets first MLS goal; Sounders win

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Raul Ruidiaz scored his first MLS goal in his first league start to help the Seattle Sounders beat the last-place San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Wednesday night.

[ MORE: BWP celebrates 100th MLS goal with great celebration ]

Seattle (6-9-5) is unbeaten in its last five games. San Jose (2-12-6) has gone 11 games without a win, including three straight losses.

Ruidiaz chested down a pass from Cristian Roldan near the penalty area on a breakaway and one-touched a shot inside the far post in the 62nd minute.

Ruidiaz, who signed as a designated player on June 29 after playing for Peru in the World Cup, also had two good scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes. Stefan Frei made five saves and recorded his third clean sheet in his last four games.

San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski was just wide on a redirection of Quincy Amarikwa’s cross in the 80th minute.

Sounders make Raul Ruidiaz signing official

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
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It’s been a season from hell for the Seattle Sounders, as they’ve been without the likes of Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Roman Torres, Osvaldo Alonso and Victor Rodriguez — six players who’ll take home a combined $5.8 million in 2018 — for 50 of a possible 84 appearances this season.

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It’s little wonder they’ve won just 12 points from their first 14 games and find themselves with yet another massive mountain to climb in order to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs, given their seemingly never-ending injury crisis (Morris is out for the year with a torn ACL; Rodriguez and Torres have made just four and five appearances, respectively; and Dempsey and Lodeiro have combined for just two goals and three assists) and availability lost due to international call-ups (Torres, when not injured, as well as Gustav Svensson).

Chief among their problems? They’ve scored just 11 goals in 14 games — eight fewer than any other team in MLS. When Morris went down in late February and it became clear that Rodriguez might never be reliably fit, general manager Garth Lagerwey’s top task became exceedingly clear: sign a star striker who’ll have the kind of immediate, overwhelming impact that Obafemi Martins had upon his arrival in 2013.

[ MORE: Zlatan, Valeri, Almiron headline 2018 MLS All-Star squad ]

Enter: Raul Ruidiaz, who’s 27 years old, fresh off a trip to the World Cup with Peru (31 career caps) and back-to-back 20-goal seasons for Liga MX side Morelia. Seattle will reportedly pay a hefty transfer fee in exchange for Ruidiaz’s services.

Ruidiaz moved to Mexico, where he scored 40 goals in two seasons and won back-to-back scoring titles, in the summer of 2016.

The gap between Seattle, who currently sit 10th in the Western Conference, and the sixth-place Vancouver Whitecaps is 11 points.