Even with the lopsided final score, the match offered a stark reminder of the electricity that follows this rivalry, occurring before a full crowd for the first time since 2019. The match was hotly contested until Raul Ruidiaz's stunning free kick in the 55th minute set off a rampant stretch of four unanswered goals by Seattle.
Here are three takeaways we're mulling over:
We're used to seeing it from Ruidiaz, but that doesn't make it any less spectacular whenever he pulls one out like he did atop the Timbers' box. It was a flat-out unstoppable effort from the Peruvian forward, one of three legitimate golazos Seattle bagged on the evening (Fredy Montero and Jimmy Medranda were the authors of the other two).
As Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer pointed out afterward, when it comes to Ruidiaz, it isn't just about the gaudy goal-scoring numbers. It's the propensity for finding them when the moment is the most crucial and the lights are the brightest.
"What I would say about Raul is, it's not just the quality of the goals that Raul scores. But it's the timing of when he scores them," Schmetzer said. "I mean, we needed that. We needed that goal from Raul to get us back on top. The Austin game this year, he comes on and secures three points. Everybody talks about the great game he had against LAFC when him and Nico \[Lodeiro\] were killers, when they had the best record in the history of our league.
"He scores timely goals at the right moments. And then of course, he's a showman and he pulls out the highlight-reel goals on a weekly basis."
With his second goal of the evening, a rebound finish in the 72nd minute, Ruidiaz assumed sole possession of the Golden Boot presented by Audi race with his 13th tally of the year. He doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon.
When Fredy Montero and Jimmy Medranda were brought in by Seattle (Montero as an offseason signing, Medranda via trade with Nashville SC last year) neither was a particularly heralded addition.
Montero boasted a long and proven MLS goals ledger dating back to his first stint in Seattle (2009-13), but he was turning 34 and how much he would really be expected to move the needle was an open question. Meanwhile, Medranda had spent much of the last two years sidelined by injuries and was perceived as more of a depth piece than a consistent cog in Schmetzer's rotation.
So far, both signings are paying huge dividends. Montero nabbed both of Seattle's first-half strikes on Sunday, giving him six goals and three assists on the year. He's on pace to provide phenomenal value upon his Rave Green return from time with Vancouver and in Europe.
Medranda has become a reliable contributor at left back alongside Brad Smith, and pulled out a truly stunning feat with his first-time volley from Joao Paulo's corner kick that put Sunday's match to bed. The former Nashville SC and Sporting Kansas City man seems much improved.
"I knew had that in his bag of tricks," Schmetzer said of Medranda's goal. "He's got an unbelievably talented left foot. But that was JP seeing an opportunity, he gave the right pass in the right moment and Jimmy was able to push it home. So for me, he has been a really valuable member to the team this year. Whatever happened in his previous couple teams, he's had some injuries over his career. You can see a player who is enjoying a fresh team, a new environment. His play has been very, very good."
To be fair to the Timbers, this wasn't a 6-2 scoreline where the winning team dominated from start to finish. Portland erased Seattle's initial 2-0 lead through George Fochive's leveler shortly after the second-half kickoff; they were also on the front foot for much of the first half even with the two-goal deficit.
Still, conceding six goals at home to your biggest rival is always troublesome and continued a season-long trend for Portland. With six going past goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic, the Timbers have now given up a Western Conference-high 35 goals in 2021. Only current Wooden Spoon holders and Eastern Conference strugglers Toronto FC (40) have allowed more this year.
After the game, Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese correctly pointed out three of those six were unstoppable hits from Seattle. But he also acknowledged that doesn't change the reality that their play at the back must improve.
"It has nothing to do with the defenders, it has to do with the entire team that will be defending because we need to be better all around," Savarese said. "And we need to at some points just be a little bit better, to sacrifice a little bit more. And the guys worked hard, it’s not about the guys not putting the work in, but it just needs to be better from the entire team, at being a little more solid defensively, not give up so many goals like this because then it’s difficult to win."
With Sebastian Blanco working his way back from injury, the Timbers can still be incredibly dynamic in the final third. But it's the other side of the ball that remains the prevailing concern as they look to stay afloat in the Western Conference playoff race.