Re-watching the Montreal game, two things stood out. If the Timbers can improve them, I think they win. If they cannot, I think they leave empty-handed.
1. Width from the fullbacks. Harrington and Miller combined for one(!) successful cross against Montreal. If Miller and Harrington cannot add width, we will see the same congested midfield we saw against Montreal. Valeri will be trying to weave through a tough Seattle defensive center, starting with Ozzie Alonso.
Seattle is suspect at fullback, so this is one area Portland should look to exploit. The fullbacks must contribute more wide to open up gaps for Nagbe, Valeri, and Johnson in the middle.
Keep an eye on Harrington and Miller's crosses. If they aren't connecting, the team is in for a long day.
2. Beating first defenders. On second viewing one thing that caught my eye is that for all our possession, we rarely beat Montreal off the dribble in 1v1 situations and forced a numbers up situation:
- Nagbe was the best, and caused problems from his left side.
- Valeri didn't have space. He tried a few times, but was consistently shut down.
- It isn't necessarily the strength of Johnson's game, but there were a couple of plays he could have taken a player on and chose for a simple drop off instead.
- Alhassan was downright passive. Usually he's one of our more aggressive players. He took a night off against Montreal and was rightfully benched.
Pressing the issue in the opponent's half requires you take on and beat defenders to open up space. Look for whether Nagbe and Valeri, specifically, are getting past the first defender. If they are, Seattle will struggle to keep the Timbers off the scoring sheet. Their defense does not react particularly well in numbers-down situations.