Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers believe 1-1 draw is a good sign for the future

In a match where there were goals scored early and late by players who have battled back from injury, the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers shared the points in a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field Thursday night to leave both coaches optimistic about their team’s postseason chances.

The Cascadia rivals remain level on points atop the Western Conference following their fourth and final meeting of the regular season. It took a 93rd-minute Will Bruin goal to wrestle a third consecutive win in this rivalry from the Timbers and spoil what Portland coach Gio Savarese called was a “perfect game” to that point.

“It was good for Will, it's good for the team," Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match. "Seattle Sounders never give up. That’s one of the trademarks that makes us a championship team. Will embodies all of those things. He doesn't give up, he trains hard, he works hard. And for him to score for the team, to snatch a point at the end there, it's something you can actually build momentum on both individually for Will and for the squad.”

Bruin, who has started the last three games in place of Raul Ruidiaz, who tested positive for COVID-19 during international duty with Peru, thought he had to wait even longer to end a goalless streak that stretched back to a brace against Toronto FC last April.

With time ticking away, Bruin fired home at the back post after Joao Paulo’s corner kick was initially headed on by Yeimar Gomez.

Watch: Will Bruin scores 93rd-minute equalizer vs. Timbers 

As he turned to celebrate his first goal since an ACL injury cut short his 2019 season, he said he thought he heard a whistle calling it off as “everybody kind of just looked at me.”

“I was like oh no, but it ended up counting,” Bruin said, adding, “Yeah, I got to make it dramatic.”

Bruin’s equalizer canceled out Andres Flores’ 10th-minute goal that gave the Timbers the lead. Like Bruin, it’s been a long time coming for the Salvadoran international, who scored his first goal since Decision Day 2018 and featured in his first match since Sept. 22, 2019.

The midfielder, described as a “fighter” by Savarese, had battled injury and personal loss, with the death of his father just before the MLS is Back Tournament in July.

While he would have preferred that it came with three points at the end, Flores said the goal was personally gratifying.

“Personally I feel very happy for the goal because I’ve been out for a long time and you have no idea how hard I have been working,” he said. “So I was just being patient, waiting for the opportunity and it came today in a big game.”

Watch: Andres Flores puts Timbers in front of Sounders in the 10th minute

It was the second consecutive match the Timbers conceded the tying goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time after 16-year-old Christian Torres secured a 1-1 draw for LAFC at Providence Park Sunday.

“We let those two points go away the same way we did last week and this is something we need to work on,” Larrys Mabiala said. “But at the same time, I don’t really want to focus too much on that because the more you think about it, I feel like the more the same situation happens. Yeah, we still want to play the way we played, especially in the first half and try to erase those late goals we concede.”

Savarese also looked to focus more on the positives. He said that the fact his team leaves CenturyLink Field disappointed following a draw against the defending MLS Cup champions “shows that we’re on the right path.”

“We are here in Seattle, playing against our rivals, playing against a very good team and we tied in this match and we’re very disappointed because we felt that we could have gotten more, right there that’s a good sign,” Savarese said. “It shows that we came here for something important, to get three points. The fact that we finish the game disappointed because of what happened in the end shows that we were convinced the work we put in was going to give us the three points.”